RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia State Senator from Chesterfield County has proposed a total ban on medical transition for youth in Virginia, including provisions to remove required insurance coverage for adults.
The bill, proposed by Senator Amanda Chase, closely mirrors language in an Arkansas ban that was blocked earlier this year pending a final ruling by a federal court. The bill would ban the prescription of hormones and puberty blockers to trans youth, as well as any transition-related surgeries.
“I’ve actually been in contact with the legislator in Arkansas who passed this bill,” Chase told 8News in an interview earlier this year.
Chase added that the procedures should be banned regardless of whether parents support their child’s transition — and implied that parents who do allow their children to receive treatment are mentally ill.
“We have to protect minors, regardless of the mental state of the parents,” she said. “This is child abuse.”
Chase’s bill also targets transition care for adults with a provision that would allow insurance companies to deny coverage for the care. Under current state and federal law, denying coverage of transition care is illegal with few exceptions, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Chase said she’s open to taking anything impacting legal adults out of the bill.
“I’m going to hear input from all stakeholders before we make any changes to the bill, but we are certainly open to that. Like I said, the desire of this bill is to protect minor children from mutilation and sterilization that they can never change,” Chase said.
Bo Belotti, an activist who came out as trans at age 13, said he didn’t get top surgery or start taking hormones until he was an adult because, at first, his parents weren’t supportive.
“I begged to be put on blockers and it was honestly such a traumatizing experience to constantly know that my body was going to change in a way that was not aligned with my identity,” Belotti said. “As someone who waited, I can tell you that it drove me very close to death and I just ask that you think about the ways in which this will impact trans youth, both from a scientific and an empathetic perspective, because waiting could kill people.”
The Facts of the Matter
In an interview with 8News prior to filing the bill, Chase cited several statistics she argued proved that medical transition for minors was both dangerous and experimental. She claimed that between 80% and 90% of youth who transition eventually “desist” or give up int heir transition.
Chase also mentioned a statistic of 40%, but it was unclear whether she believed this was the rate of suicide among trans youth or the increase for those who undergo transition, and the Senator did not respond to a request for clarification. She also did not respond to a request that she share her sources for these statistics, and 8News could find no corroboration of her claims.
Two studies of trans youth have shown that the rate of detransition was 2% or 2.5%.
Another study found that allowing trans youth access to puberty blockers and hormones has a moderate positive effect on their mental health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly supported evidence-based gender-affirming care for youth and opposed legislation limiting access.
“Any discrimination based on gender identity or expression is damaging to the socioemotional health of children and families as evidenced by increased risk of suicide in this population,” AAP wrote in a recent statement.
In her order halting the Arkansas ban, Judge Jane Kelly wrote that claims that gender transition treatments were dangerous would not stand up to legal scrutiny.
“There is substantial evidence to support the district court’s conclusion that the Act prohibits medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care,” Judge Kelly wrote. “Even international bodies that consider hormone treatment for adolescents to be ‘experimental’ have not banned the care covered by Act 626.”
An Unfavorable Landscape
Chase’s bill is currently assigned to the Committee on Education on Health — where it will, in all likelihood, die.
That’s because the State Senate is still under the control of Virginia Democrats, who are unlikely to endorse a proposal that even Republican governor Glenn Youngkin views as too extreme.
However, that may change if Republicans are able to gain control of the State senate under new electoral maps during next year’s election.
The General Assembly is set to meet for its 2023 session in January.