WV Legislature Passes Transgender Care Ban for Youths Across the State 


The bill prohibiting minors from receiving gender-affirming care now awaits the Governor’s signature. If the bill becomes law, it will prevent those under the age of eighteen from accessing evidence-based healthcare treatments.  

A study by UCLA Law’s The Williams Institute in 2017 estimated West Virginia had the highest per capita rate of transgender children in the Country. Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association recommend gender-affirming care for transgender youths. However, some within the GOP claim that gender-affirming care has not been researched enough and may lead to long-term health issues for those who receive it.  

The bill would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from receiving hormone therapy and completely reversible medication that pauses the physical changes as a result of puberty in an effort to create more time for patients and families to make decisions regarding hormone therapy. The bill also contains a provision that outlaws gender-affirming surgery for minors, a procedure medical experts state does not happen currently in West Virginia.  

An exemption was added to the bill after Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, a physician, voiced concern for those suffering from severe gender dysphoria. It would allow some transgender minors to continue undergoing medical treatments under certain circumstances, such as hormone therapy, if they suffer from severe gender dysphoria. The bill also has exemptions for transgender minors who experience suicidal ideation, added during the last week of the legislative session.  

Takubo incorporated 17 peer-reviewed studies in his speech on the Senate floor. The studies asserted that suicidal ideation and attempts typically decrease considerably when youths receive medication therapy. When discussing the bill, Takubo stated, “These kids struggle, they have incredible difficulties.”  

The House of Delegates unanimously adopted the Senate’s changes. The bill passed 88-10. 

Democratic Delegate Ric Griffith of Wayne County spoke in support of the Mental Health Exceptions. He stated, “We talk a lot about, ‘Parents know what’s best for their children,’” He went on to say, “This is a fairly narrow allowance when a child could potentially be suicidal.” 

Anyone under the age of 18 is required to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by at least two physicians or mental health professionals to receive medication therapy. The dosage they receive must be kept as low as possible to “treat the psychiatric condition and not for purposes of gender alteration,” according to the bill. 

Medical providers must be trained to diagnose and treat individuals suffering from gender dysphoria. They must also produce written testimony stating medical treatment is necessary to prevent self-harm for those suffering from severe gender dysphoria. Additionally, the minor’s parents or guardians would need to consent before the treatments are offered to the patient.  

Governor Justice has not given any indication as to whether or not he will sign the bill.