IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
People protest Kentucky Senate bill SB150, known as the Transgender Health Bill, in Frankfort on March 29, 2023.
People protest Kentucky Senate bill SB150, known as the Transgender Health Bill, in Frankfort on March 29, 2023.Timothy D. Easley / AP

Transgender bills become flashpoint in Kentucky, West Virginia races

Kentucky's legislature overrode a veto of a bill banning gender affirming care while West Virginia's governor signed a ban


Key legislative action on transgender rights in two states on Wednesday have put statewide elected officials in the spotlight on the issue ahead of marquee elections in 2023 and 2024.

West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation "prohibiting irreversible gender reassignment surgery to a minor" and "prohibiting the providing of gender altering medication to a minor." Per the Associated Press, it's the 11th state to restrict gender-affirming care for transgender minors amid a national debate over transgender identity and care.

That same day, Kentucky's legislature overturned Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's veto of similar legislation banning gender affirming care.

Beshear is running for re-election this fall, and Republicans have focused significantly on the transgender-rights debate as a culture war issue.

When the Democratic governor vetoed the bill last week, he argued in a message to the legislature that "improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population," that the law "strips freedom from parents to make personal family decisions" and that "Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky's youth."

"My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky," he added.

Beshear's top Republican rivals, Attorney General Daniel Cameron and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft, both celebrated the veto override. Cameron criticized Beshear for vetoing the bill "because he is beholden to the far left," and Craft criticized "this movement across the nation to impose radical gender ideology on our kids" last week.

And while Justice is term-limited, he's been openly considering a Senate bid against West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin next year.