Briana Heaney Published

Trans Activists: New Law Could Block Gender Affirming Care For Inmates

Two trans activist stand in the capitol building. Two white imposing columns stand behind them. One of the activists is holding a sign saying, "SB 1009 is State Violence." The woman next to them is reading from a phone.
Deives Collins stands near the rotunda in the state capitol building reading the law in its entirety. He and other trans advocacy groups say the vague language in this bill could be used to limit or block trans care for inmates.
Briana Heaney/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill 1009 in a special session earlier this week. The law prohibits the use of state funds for certain medical procedures or benefits that are not medically necessary for inmates.

On Friday, the West Virginia Trans Coalition hosted a rally protesting the law.

According to the protestors, it could give the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Billy Marshall, not physicians, final say on what is medically necessary. Trans activists like Deives Collins fear this law could be used to deny gender affirming care to inmates. 

“I perceive this as a threat to us specifically, trans activists, saying, ‘Hey, we found a way to legally de-transition you if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law,” Collins said. 

A Federal District Court for the Southern District of Illinois deemed trans affirming care as medically necessary and set the precedent that non-exports should not be decision makers when it comes to health care for transgender inmates.