Crowds condemn West Virginia’s ban on gender-affirming treatments – NewsWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Crowds in the West Virginia state capital on Thursday begged lawmakers to show as much compassion for saving the lives of transgender children as they showed for unborn fetuses when they called for a ban on transgender children a few months ago abortion voted.

During a hearing, dozens of doctors, parents and LGBTQ Republicans repeatedly said that a decision to ban gender-affirming childcare for teens would put children’s lives at risk. Transgender and gender non-conforming children are disproportionately likely to attempt suicide, and West Virginia has the largest per capita population of transgender youth in the country.

“You all like to use rhetoric about not killing children as justification for passing legislation, as you did this summer. You will kill children if you pass them,” said Rev. Jenny Williams, United Methodist pastor in Preston County. “If you are against killing children, as you say, I would hope that you would apply your principles consistently.”

“The hypocrisy here is significant and is not based on science but on fear,” said Alise Chaffins, a teacher who said she is also the mother of more than one transgender child.

Several people told lawmakers they would have blood on their hands if they pushed ahead with legislation banning gender-affirming treatment of minors, which was withdrawn by two House committees and is now up for consideration before the full House of Delegates.

Some of the few MEPs present watched intently, others looked at their phones or laptops or averted their eyes. People were given one minute to speak before being interrupted and told to sit. Almost 80 people spoke out against the law. Two spoke in support.

Paula Lepp, who said she is a Christian parent of a Christian transgender child, told lawmakers she believes the law contradicts Jesus’ teachings about caring for the most marginalized.

“The bottom line is that I’d rather have a living daughter than a dead son, and this bill jeopardizes that,” she said.

Robyn Kincaid, a transgender woman, called the bill “nasty,” saying decades ago when she was a transgender teenager, she didn’t have access to gender-affirming care and had to deal with the “hell” of living with gender dysphoria Years .

“It’s time we stopped worrying about trans kids making the transition,” she said. “It’s time we stopped worrying about what happens if they don’t.”

Republicans in other states who have wanted to limit underage access to the treatments have often called the treatments medically unproven and potentially dangerous in the long run, another political battle against liberal ideologies. They also say that teenagers should not undergo irreversible surgeries.

Braden Roten, one of the two proponents of the law, urged lawmakers to look beyond the crowd that opposed the law and consider what conservatives would want.

“Despite the crowd opposing this law, this is a red state and there is a huge push in the conservative movement for this law,” he said as people booed from the chamber galleries and ground floor. “If you don’t vote on this bill, we will vote you out.”

At least 88 bills have been introduced in 26 states aimed at restricting gender-sensitive childcare for minors or young adults. The West Virginia measure bans gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy for teenagers.

Many physicians, mental health specialists, and medical groups have argued that treatments for young transgender people are safe and beneficial, although rigorous long-term research is lacking. Federal health authorities have described gender-affirming care as critical to the health and well-being of transgender children and youth.

dr Charleston-based pediatrician Allison Holstein spoke Thursday on behalf of the West Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She said the bill will affect doctors’ ability to provide the best medical care to their patients.

“The law is dangerous, it interferes with the doctor-patient relationship,” she said. “Trying to integrate politics into medical practice is disturbing and very worrying.”

Lia Farrell, a student at West Virginia University School of Medicine, called the law “abominable” and said it undermines “everything that we work for as healthcare providers.”

Brianna Caison, another WVU medical student, said when lawmakers pass legislation that makes gender-affirming care illegal, it sends a message that they don’t value the medical community.

“From a medical-ethical perspective, asking not to offer life-saving therapy is tantamount to making insulin illegal for diabetics,” Caison said.

Staffers at the West Virginia Women’s Health Center — formerly West Virginia’s only provider of abortions before the procedure was effectively banned — also opposed the bill. The clinic, which primarily provides Medicaid to low-income people, began offering gender-affirming hormone therapy when abortion was banned.

Executive Director Katie Quiñonez read a statement on behalf of a transgender man who said before coming out as trans, he had attempted suicide four times. The first time he was 12.

“If you’re so pro-life, why are you trying to kill trans kids?” Quinonez said.

Kaylen Barker, communications director for the Women’s Health Center, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, said she’s tired of having to come to the Capitol to justify her existence and the experiences of people she loves.

“Leave us alone,” Barker shouted. “Find something worthwhile to do with your time, like fix the damn roads.”

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