Curtis Tate Published

House Considers Limits On Health Care For Transgender Minors

Danielle Walker House.jpg
Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia
Perry Bennett

Leading medical organizations say being transgender, nonbinary or having another gender identity that doesn’t match the sex assigned at birth is a normal part of the human experience.

It is rare for anyone under 18 to receive gender-reassignment surgery.

Yet lawmakers in West Virginia, and other states like Tennessee, are considering bills to ban such procedures for transgender minors.

None of House Bill 2007’s supporters in the House Health and Human Resources Committee explained why the bill was necessary. Del. Danielle Walker of Monongalia opposed it.

“This is personal,” she said. “I meet these children and their families. I see that they are happy living, loving, learning, embracing their true self.”

To Walker, it’s not the job of lawmakers to interfere with the health care decisions of transgender youth and their parents. In 2021, the American Medical Association urged the National Governors Association to oppose legislative attempts to restrict transgender medical care.

“Our jobs is to protect, embrace, and make sure the people of West Virginia are thriving,” Walker said, “not to place more barriers and boundaries on them.”

Gender-diverse youth are at greater risk for depression and suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And they’re not invisible in West Virginia or Appalachia.

Researchers at West Virginia University found last year that more than 7 percent of middle and high school students in Appalachia expressed a gender identity that did not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transgender people already face barriers when seeking the care they need. Another WVU study found that 61 percent of participants had to seek gender-affirming care outside the state.

Walker says lawmakers should let transgender youth lead the way.

“They are unapologetic themselves, and they take a stand every day, all across this nation,” she said.

HB 2007 will now be considered by the House Judiciary Committee.