CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A bill to ban certain medical procedures and treatments for people under 18, such as gender-affirming treatment, has passed the West Virginia House of Delegates with a vote of 84-10.
This bill has been one of the most controversial bills to be debated in the West Virginia State Capitol in years. During a public hearing on House Bill 2007 on Thursday, only two people spoke in favor of the bill, and 79 spoke against allowing the bill.
Critics say transgender youth have high suicide attempt rates, but bill supporters say they’re too young to make informed decisions. Fairness West Virginia released a statement in response to the House vote.
“Our community has spent weeks begging lawmakers to listen to us when we say this care is safe, effective and lifesaving,” said Isabella Cortez, gender policy manager for Fairness West Virginia. “It’s not an exaggeration when we say this bill, if it’s signed into law, will kill transgender youth. The lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill should be ashamed of themselves.”
On Wednesday, the bill’s sponsor Del. Geoff Foster (R-Putnam) said the goal of the bill is to protect children from making these permanent changes at a young age.
“It protects children from long-lasting, basically surgeries, or irreversible surgeries and medications that make permanent changes to the child, that don’t provide any proven long-term medical, psychological or emotional benefits,” said Foster.
There were two attempts to amend the bill to give more flexibility to those under the age of 18, but both amendments were defeated by a wide margin. Four other states have already banned the surgeries, and 18 more, including West Virginia, are considering it.
The bill now moves to the State Senate.