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Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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W.Va. Pushes Transphobic Legislation With the “Women’s Bill of Rights”

Matthew+Schaffer
The Parthenon
Matthew Schaffer

The West Virginia legislature continues its onslaught of transphobic and regressive bills with the introduction of House Bill 5243, which would legally define gender in accordance to assigned sex.

The bill, introduced under the guise of “West Virginia’s Women’s Bill of Rights,” aims to limit single single-sex spaces—such as locker rooms, restrooms, athletics, domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers—to those legally defined as “female,” “male,” “woman,” “man,” “boy,” “girl,” “mother” and “father” by this bill.

HB 5243, as introduced by Republican delegates Kathie Crouse, Wayne Clark, Chris Pritt, Jimmy Willis, Daniel Linville, Jarred Cannon, Erica Moore, Geoff Foster, Laura Kimble, Margitta Mazzocchi and Debbie Warner, defines each of these genders based on anatomical features and legally declares that “there are only two genders, and every individual is either male or female.”

This bill is only the latest piece of state legislation that aims to discriminate and invalidate non-binary and transgendered West Virginians, barring them from gendered spaces under the veil of protecting women, despite the clinical evidence showing there is no link between predatory crimes and transgender-inclusive policies.

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In fact, a 2021 study by the Frontiers of Sociology, published by the National Library of Medicine, found this form of legislation is not only an attack on civil rights but an act of discrimination towards transgendered individuals.

“We understand that the prohibition of access to the restroom constitutes a form of gender violence and discrimination, as we conclude that the arguments that express concerns about safety are not supported,” said the study “Trans Women and Public Restrooms: The Legal Discourse and Its Violence.”

Furthermore, the impact these kinds of discriminatory bills have on the well-being of the targeted groups is well documented. In fact, the study titled “How Will Anti-Trans Laws Impact Transgender and Gender-Diverse Youth Mental Health?” by Boston University found that these pieces of legislation cause harm to the mental health of transgender and non-binary people, especially students.

“As states ban gender-affirming care and participation in sports, BU study finds more than half of trans and gender-diverse kids report depression and self-harm,” the study said.

Additionally, a survey conducted in 2023 by the Trevor Project, a non- profit that focuses on suicide prevention of LGBTQ+ youth, said two-thirds of the 820 LGBTQ+ youth surveyed said debates over state laws that limit transgender rights have had a negative impact on their mental health.

This bill was introduced after, just last week, Republican Mike Azinger introduced three pieces of legislation to the state Senate that would further restrict the rights of transgender people in West Virginia.

State Governor Jim Justice has already voiced his support for the bill and vowed to sign the bill into law if
passed by the legislature. Considering the state’s Republican supermajority Congress, the bill is likely to pass in some form.

The bill is just another attack on individual freedoms and rights that members of the LGBTQ+ community have faced over the years with over 220 bills introduced in 2023 according to the Human Rights Campaign, leaving 35.1% of the nation’s transgender youth living in states that ban gender-
affirming care.

Meanwhile, transgender individuals account for only 1.4% of the United States population, according to UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute; additionally, 1.6% of the American population identify as non-binary or transgender, according to Pew Research Center.

The attack on LGBTQ+ people is a culture politics rally cry from the Republican party to stir the base in support of the party while creating minimal impact on the daily lives of most citizens of the state.

Rather than creating economic prosperity, raising wages, dealing with income inequality, diversifying the economy or attempting to mend broken healthcare systems, the West Virginia legislature prefers to focus on legislation that will further divide the state’s citizens with a bill that will affect less than 2% of the population of both the state and the country.

A Pew Research survey titled “Americans’ Complex Views on Gender Identity and Transgender Issues” found that 64% of those surveyed favored “protecting trans people from discrimination.”

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