On February 8th, several critics were not pleased with the legislation West Virginia recently passed. According to several speakers at a public hearing, this law would give women no further rights and is a way for Republicans to suppress transgender people. Dozens of them stood against the bill, while few supported it.
During a 45-minute hearing on that Thursday, many voiced their opinions strongly. The bill in question is the “Women’s Bill of Rights.” The state of West Virginia passed this law that says that “equal” does not mean “same” or “identical” concerning the equality of the sexes.
It also states that a person’s sex is determined at birth and that gender equity terms may not be substituted. It also would establish that certain single-sex environments, such as athletics, locker rooms, and bathrooms, are not discriminatory.
This sounds like transphobia to some people, including a Marshall University student named Max Varney. “I stand before you as a transgender person in West Virginia. I am not a threat to the public, nor is my existence offensive,” Varney said. “This bill is dehumanizing. It is unjust. And it is disgusting.
“Why am I not supposed to be considered a person too? I am here today to show you that trans people in West Virginia are real.” She continued, “I am real. I exist. And I deserve to be treated with humanity.” The state’s only LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, Fairness West Virginia, also agrees with Varney.
They said the bill does nothing to support women regardless of its name. The organization also complained that the legislation would not allow transgender people to use government-building restrooms that align with their gender identity.
Mollie Kennedy, the community outreach director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter, also disputed the legislation. She even called it a “bigoted bill.” “We don’t need a women’s bill of rights to know how this legislature feels about women,” she said. “It is appalling and offensive.”
However, the West Virginia governor, Jim Justice, supports this bill completely. As a Republican, it is not surprising to see his stance against transgender people. He also signed a bill last year which bans gender-affirming care for minors.
Furthermore, he is not the only one who believes in such a bill. Several states across the country have restricted or outlawed medically supported treatments for transgender minors.
For example, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt also signed an executive order on the narrow definitions of sex in August. Another happy party at this hearing was former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines.
She is popular for taking a stance against transgender people performing in regular sports. Her vocal fight started when the NCAA allowed transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to compete against her in a women’s championship race in 2022.
Gaines believes this was unfair and has fought against transgender athletes in regular sports ever since. She is also part of the anti-trans group Independent Women’s Voice. The affected parties may challenge the law in court, but the odds are not in their favor.
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