West Virginia Senate passes modified transgender supply ban

West Virginia’s Republican-majority Senate on Friday passed legislation that would ban certain health care services for transgender youth after approving a significant amendment to add exceptions for young people at risk of self-harm or suicide.

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

The law would ban people under the age of 18 from prescribing hormone therapies and fully reversible drugs that suspend the physical changes of puberty, giving patients and parents time to make future decisions about hormones.

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

During a speech in the Senate, Takubo pointed to 17 peer-reviewed studies showing a significant decrease in suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among adolescents with severe gender dysphoria who have access to drug therapy.

He found a supporter in Senate Health and Human Resources Committee chair Sen. Mike Maroney, another physician by training, who said lawmakers were setting “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 incredible,” the Republican said, adding that lawmakers wouldn’t apply the same standard to drugs for cancer or mental illness.

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

But Takubo’s approved amendment would allow young people to have access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy in certain circumstances if they have severe gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is defined by medical professionals as severe psychological distress experienced by individuals whose gender identity differs from their birth-assigned gender.

Legislators in West Virginia and other states pushing bans on transgender health care for teens and young adults often characterize gender-affirming treatments as medically unproven, potentially dangerous in the long term, and a symptom of the “wake” culture.

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

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

All major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association, support gender-biased care for adolescents.

With Takubo’s amendment, a person under the age of 18 would need to be diagnosed with severe gender dysphoria by at least two medical or mental health providers in order to have access to drug therapy. You would need to be a mental health or adolescent medicine specialist.

The dosage must be as low as possible to “treat the psychiatric condition and not for sex reassignment,” according to the bill.

Providers must be specifically trained to diagnose and treat severe gender dysphoria in adolescents and have written certification that medical intervention is required to prevent or limit self-harm or the possibility of self-harm.

The parents and legal guardians of the minor would also have to agree in writing to the treatments.

Hormone therapy couldn’t be offered to minors before puberty, something West Virginia doctors say isn’t happening anyway.

The bill now goes back to the state House of Representatives for approval. It’s unclear what House lawmakers will think of the changes to the Senate bill. The proposal, which passed the House by a large majority last month, included a ban on drugs and hormone therapies that block puberty, with no exceptions for mental health.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 84 to 10, with all “no” votes coming from the dwindling Democratic delegation. They accused GOP lawmakers of risking the lives of children to gain political points with the national-conservative movement.

This version provides exceptions for people born with a “medically provable disorder,” including people with “external biological sex characteristics that are inextricably ambiguous,” and for people receiving treatments for infection, injury, disease, or disorder that “Caused or aggravated by having sex reassignment procedures performed.”

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

Republican Sen. Mark Maynard opposed Takubo’s change on Friday, saying he doesn’t see why changes are necessary. He feared additions could leave the state vulnerable to a lawsuit.

“This change would blur the clarity of the bill in its very simple terms,” ​​Maynard said. “Those guard rails are already in this bill as it was brought to us by the House of Representatives.”

The vote came a day after crowds of protesters descended on the state Capitol, where cries of “trans children matter” were heard from the Senate chambers while lawmakers debated bills.

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

“They’re trying to take trans kids in West Virginia, and they’re going to take every single one of us next,” said Sam Green, from Huntington, who wore a transgender pride flag around his shoulders as he addressed the crowd.

Cecelia Moran, an 18-year-old high school student from Marion County, said she fears banning any type of medically proven health care could cause more young people to leave West Virginia, one of only three states included in the U.S – 2020 census have lost population.

“I think a lot of young people are already struggling to stay here and feel welcome here and are already planning to get out of the state as soon as possible,” she said.

Her mother, Rebecca Moran, said the bill was “just completely unnecessary” and that healthcare decisions should be made by families and healthcare providers.

“That’s not what harms our children,” said Rebecca Moran, a Fairmont councilwoman. “There are so many other things: homelessness, poverty.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-charleston-house-of-delegates-republican-people-b2298613.html West Virginia Senate passes modified transgender supply ban

Linh

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