Equality Caucus: Shame on Pa. senators for putting transgender kids at risk

Amendment to CHIP renewal would cut off counseling, other services

HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – Leaders of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus said the state senators who voted today to deny health care to transgender young people should be ashamed of themselves.

"Shame on every senator who voted to add discrimination against trans young people to what had been a simple, clean, bipartisan renewal of the Children's Health Insurance Program, a commonsense, popular program that covers hundreds of thousands of kids in Pennsylvania," said co-chair Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny.

House Bill 1388 passed the House 194-0 in June. Today, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted to add an amendment that would deny reimbursement for gender or sex reassignment surgery, transition services, including physician's services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, prescription drugs or even counseling services.

Co-chair Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, said, "You wouldn't deny a child an appendectomy, or a cast for a broken leg, or reconstructive surgery for a cleft palate. Why block some of our most vulnerable kids from getting vital medical care? This amendment is evidence of a profound lack of understanding of transgender children's medical needs."

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the only out LGBT member of the legislature, said, "This bill picks on some of the most vulnerable children in Pennsylvania. This bill is the opposite of pro-family. This bill would cut off funds for counseling for some of these most vulnerable kids, who are at a higher risk of suicide. This bill is the opposite of pro-life."

Frankel concluded, "Some in Harrisburg apparently still think they can wish transgender kids away with legislation – but you can't, and no one should be trying to. State government is at its best when it acts to help vulnerable people, and at its worst when it uses vulnerable people as political punching bags."