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CHARLESTON, W.V. — Today, the West Virginia House passed House Bill 2007, a bill that bans gender-affirming care, including medications, to anyone under the age of 18 in most circumstances. The bill passed the Senate yesterday with an amendment to the bill that will allow some young people with severe gender dysphoria to access hormone therapy if the diagnosis is confirmed by two doctors and if the minor has parental consent. The House concurred with this amendment but made a small adjustment to the text of the bill. As a result, the bill now moves back to the Senate for another concurrence.

Gender-affirming care, guided by evidence-based standards of care, is considered a medical necessity by nearly every major medical association in the United States due to the overwhelming evidence that it greatly improves health outcomes for patients who are transgender or nonbinary. West Virginia providers do not currently perform surgeries on minors nor do they recommend hormone therapy before a patient begins puberty.

“There is clear medical evidence that people who are transgender, especially young people, have markedly better mental and physical health outcomes when they are supported in their gender identity and when medical professionals can provide them with the evidenced-based, compassionate health care they need,” said Carrie Lett, a clinician with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic which provides gender-affirming hormone therapy in West Virginia. “I cannot count the number of patients that we have seen who had seriously contemplated or even attempted suicide in the past who now tell us they are so much happier after starting gender-affirming hormone therapy. No one should have to justify their health care decisions to a politician. If the leaders of our state were truly respectful and decent to their constituents, they would allow people to access the care they need to live happier and healthier lives without exception.”

West Virginia’s proposed ban is part of a growing wave of attacks on transgender youth in state legislatures across the country, where lawmakers have introduced more than 150 anti-trans bills in at least 29 states. Today, West Virginia becomes the fourth state this year to pass a ban on gender-affirming care for youth who are transgender.

“Gender-affirming health care is essential, life-saving health care, and it is absolutely shameful and dangerous to take it away from young people in this state,” said Alisa Clements, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Once again, the West Virginia state government is using its power to bully some of our most vulnerable Mountaineers and take control of their private health care decisions. No matter any exception included in this bill, the ban is still government overreach at its ugliest, using young people as political pawns in yet another immoral and irresponsible culture war.”

In April 2021, Arkansas became the first state to pass a law prohibiting doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, including puberty blockers, to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for such treatment. The ACLU sued the state over this law, and in July 2022 a federal district court enjoined the law while the lawsuit proceeds, holding that allowing the state to halt this care “would cause irreparable harm.” The Eighth Circuit upheld the injunction in August. Since then, six other states – Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, and, just last week, Utah – have passed laws that restrict or entirely ban gender-affirming care for minors.

Nearly every major medical association opposes bills like H.B. 2007. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) formally recommended giving young people “access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.” In 2021, AAP also announced its opposition to public policies that “threaten the health and well-being of transgender youth,” including bills that prohibit trans minors from having access to gender-affirming care and/or participating on sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. The American Medical Association has also repeatedly opposed these bills, making clear that it is “imperative that transgender minors be given the opportunity to explore their gender identity under the safe and supportive care of a physician.” Experts also warn that attacks like H.B. 2007 will have profound mental health consequences, including increasing the already high risk of suicide for transgender youth.