CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – A public hearing was held in the House Chamber on Thursday pertaining to House Bill 2007, which if passed would present restrictions to minors with regard to gender affirmation and reassignment treatments and surgeries.
Members of the LGBTQ community voicing opposition to the bill made up a large majority of the dozens who spoke during the event.
The 9:00am starting time for the hearing notably put attendance in direct conflict with two simultaneously occurring House functions – those being the House Workforce Development Committee and House Jails and Prisons Committee, respectively.
This may have affected the limited number of Delegates in attendance for the hearing itself, which was acknowledged by some members of the public who spoke.
Many brought into question lawmakers’ emphasis and insistence upon such legislation in the face of prevailing economic and infrastructural issues on a statewide level, including 5th Ward Deputy Mayor of the Morgantown City Council, Danielle Trumble.
“I’m angry that discriminatory and divisive bills like this and the other anti-LGBTQ bills have been made the priority here instead of focusing on infrastructure, addiction, homelessness; the issues that I hear the most about as an elected official,” Trumble said, bringing into question the motivations of the legislation and pointing out the potential consequences of alienating a significant portion of the population at a time when in-state growth and population advancement remain key issues conservatively speaking.
“Instead, we get bills like this meant to make a national statement. It’s fiscally irresponsible special interest politics, and nothing more. If you’re protecting children, trust their medical decisions to experts who have years of experience, and choose to address things like poverty, education, or our statewide foster care crisis. Can we as a state at this point actually afford to tell anyone who chooses to live here, to pay taxes here, to build a life here that they’re not only unwelcome, but we will persecute them for doing so?”
Conversely, Braden Roten spoke in support of the bill, acknowledging voting constituents in the primarily Republican state.
“Despite the crowd opposing this bill, this is a red state and there’s a big push in the conservative movement for this bill,” said Roten. “If you don’t vote on this bill we will vote you out.”
Specifically, House Bill 2007, which passed through the House Health & Human Resources and Judiciary Committees following its introduction on 1/12/2023, addresses gender reassignment surgery and gender reaffirming treatments, including augmentation mammoplasty and subcutaneous mastectomy.
Delegate Kayla Young (D – Kanawha, 056) proposed Thursday that the measures presented pertaining to elective surgeries within the bill be expanded to comprise procedures such as cosmetic surgery in an amendment which was ultimately rejected. Specifically, the proposed additions included: “any non-medically necessary elective surgery done for cosmetic purposes not associated with correcting a birth defect, physical injury or deformity.”
Another rejected amendment, proposed by Minority Whip Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D – Ohio, 005,) would have given consideration to the wishes of the parents of the children in question who stand to be impacted by the bill. This specifically would have entailed inclusion of the language: “without written consent of a parent or guardian” with regard to the restrictions proposed within the bill.
This issue was also touched upon during the public hearing by way of a testimony read aloud from the parent of a transgender son.
“Repeatedly I hear in the House Chamber and committees that parents know what is best for their children. Yet for trans kids, according to House Bill 2007, they don’t. Why are we not trusting parents on this issue? Please enlighten me,” read the testimony as delivered by Megan Turner.
“As a parent of a trans son, I can tell you that transitioning is a long, thoughtful psychological and medical process. Please support our transgender community and their families in West Virginia.
Also among those to voice their concerns and opposition to House Bill 2007 during the public hearing were parents, ministers, educators, and multiple healthcare professionals.
Notably, one Delegate did make an address during the hearing, that being Delegate Jim Butler (R – Mason, 018,) who recited a letter from a young mother identified as Amy Bolyard.
“I’d like to make it very clear that I’m reading this letter at the request of Amy Bolyard, who’s a young mother, and these are her words,” Delegate Butler asserted prior to the recitation.
“I come to this as a parent of a trans identifying teenager. We sought help for our son – male at birth, male today – from the largest healthcare organization in West Virginia as he spiraled into mental illness and even suicidal thoughts and attempts only to be cut off by then from his care,” the letter continued.
“They exclusively encourage him to be transgender and renounce his parents and family. Our family has been wrecked. Every dynamic, every person – so-called professionals – who operate in these places need to be stopped. Helpers in the mental and behavioral health fields as well as physical medicine take a pledge to first do no harm. There’s a lot of harm going on. They’re causing irreversible damage by prescribing cross-sex hormones and cutting away healthy body parts.”
Despite substantial pushback in the House Chambers Thursday morning, House Bill 2007 has seen significant support from lawmakers in the House, among them, lead sponsor Delegate Geoff Foster (R – Putnam, 020,) Delegate Geno Chiarelli (R – Monongalia, 078,) Delegate Chuck Horst (R – Berkeley, 095,) Delegate Wayne Clark (R – Jefferson, 099,) Delegate Mike DeVault (R – Marion, 074,) Delegate Elias Coop-Gonzalez (R – Randolph, 067,) Delegate Eric Brooks (R – Raleigh, 045,) Delegate Todd A. Kirby (R – Raleigh, 044,) Assistant Majority Whip Delegate Jordan Maynor (R – Raleigh, 041,) Delegate David Adkins (R – Lincoln, 030,) and Delegate Bryan Ward (R – Hardy, 086.)
House Bill 2007 will be addressed in the legislature on Friday, at which time it is anticipated by many to be passed through the House.
Additional LOOTPRESS coverage for the WV Legislature can be found here.