WV Senate Joins GOP Effort To Limit Health Care For Trans Youth Missed-news

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — West Virginia’s Republican-majority Senate followed a growing national trend of Republican opposition to healthcare for transgender youth by passing a bill that would ban certain treatments and therapies, while approving a significant change to add exceptions for mental health .

The Senate version of the bill passed by a 30-2 count Friday was highlighted by adding allowances for some transgender youth to continue to receive medical interventions, including hormone therapy, when deemed at risk of self-harm or commit suicide.

The bill faces strong opposition in the state House of Delegates, which will adopt the amended version in the Senate. The Republican-dominated House of Representatives last month passed a bill that includes a ban on puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy, with no exceptions for mental health.

Republican Governor Jim Justice has not taken a public stance on the measure.

Lawmakers in West Virginia and other states promoting a ban on transgender health care for youth and young adults often characterize gender-affirming treatments as medically unproven, potentially dangerous in the long run, and a symptom of “woke” culture.

Every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association, supports gender-affirming care for young people.

The West Virginia Senate bill passed Friday would bar children under 18 from receiving fully reversible hormone therapy and drugs that halt the physical changes of puberty, giving patients and parents time to make future decisions about hormones.

“These kids are struggling, they are having incredible difficulties,” said Majority Leader Tom Takubo, a pulmonologist who has urged support for mental health protections.

The Takubo-approved change would allow young people to access puberty blockers and hormone therapy if they experience severe gender dysphoria, under certain circumstances.

Medical professionals define gender dysphoria as severe psychological distress experienced by those whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth.

The rate of suicidal ideation for transgender youth in Virginia is three times higher than the rate for all youth in the state, according to research and data collected by WVU Medicine physicians using the West Virginia Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

During a speech on the Senate floor, Takubo referenced 17 peer-reviewed studies showing a significant decrease in rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among youth with severe gender dysphoria who have access to medication therapy.

He found a supporter in the chairman of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, Sen. Mike Maroney, another trained doctor, who said lawmakers would set “a dangerous precedent” by ignoring medical research for political gain.

“Who are we, to win an election, to tell people how to practice medicine? Change treatments? It’s unbelievable,” the Republican said, adding that lawmakers would not apply the same standard for drugs against cancer or mental illness.

The legislation also includes a ban on gender-affirming surgery for minors, something medical professionals stress does not happen in West Virginia.

During Friday’s debate, Republican Sen. Eric Tarr echoed those concerns, saying the medical interventions that doctors practice are too extreme and driven by “wake-up” culture.

“They are trying to remove pronouns from our children’s textbooks,” Tarr said.

With the Takubo change, a person under the age of 18 would have to be diagnosed with severe gender dysphoria by at least two medical or mental health providers to access drug therapy. One would have to be a mental health provider or an adolescent medicine specialist.

The dose should be the lowest possible necessary to “treat the psychiatric condition and not for gender-altering purposes,” according to the bill.

Providers must be specifically trained to diagnose and treat severe gender dysphoria in adolescents and must provide written attestation that medical interventions are necessary to prevent or limit self-harm or the possibility of self-harm.

The parents and guardians of the minor would also be required to give their written consent for the treatments.

Hormone therapy couldn’t be given to minors before the age of puberty, something West Virginia doctors say doesn’t happen anyway.

The House version of the bill passed last month 84-10, with all the negative votes coming from the body’s dwindling delegation of Democrats. They accused Republican lawmakers of putting children’s lives at risk to score political points with the national conservative movement.

That version provides exceptions for people who were born with a “medically verifiable disorder,” including people with “external biological sexual characteristics that are irresolvably ambiguous” and for people taking treatment for infection, injury, disease, or disorder that has been ” caused or exacerbated by the performance of gender transition procedures”.

People can also access treatment if they are in “imminent danger of death or impairment of a major bodily function unless surgery is performed.”

Speaking against Takubo’s amendment on Friday, Republican Sen. Mark Maynard said he didn’t see why any change was necessary. He worried that the additions could make the state vulnerable to a lawsuit.

“This amendment would break down the clarity of the bill into its very simple terms,” Maynard said. “These railings are already in this bill as it came to us from the House.”

The vote came a day after crowds of protesters descended on the state Capitol, where chants of “trans kids matter” could be heard from the Senate chamber as lawmakers debated the bills.

Democrat Del. Danielle Walker, the only openly LGBTQ member, led the chants of the state motto: “Mountaineers are always free.”

“They’re trying to come for the trans kids in West Virginia, and then they’re going to come for every one of us,” said Huntington’s Sam Green, who carried a transgender pride flag draped over his shoulders as he addressed the crowd.

Cecelia Moran, an 18-year-old high school student from Marion County, said she feared the ban on any medically proven health care could result in more young people leaving West Virginia, one of three states that lost population in the Census. USA 2020. .

“I think a lot of young people are already fighting to stay here and feel welcome here and are already planning to leave the state as soon as possible,” he said.

His mother, Rebecca Moran, said the bill is “completely unnecessary” and that decisions about health care should be made by families and health care providers.

“This is not what is hurting our children,” said Rebecca Moran, a Fairmont city councilwoman. “There are so many other things: homelessness, poverty.”

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