PA LGBTQ Youth Commend House Passage of Discrimination-Free CHIP Reauthorization

PA LGBTQ Youth Commend House Passage of Discrimination-Free CHIP Reauthorization

HARRISBURG, Pa. — On Monday evening, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a reauthorization bill for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) without any of the exclusions for transgender children and teens that advanced in the state Senate. The House Rules Committee unanimously stripped the Senate-approved ban on gender confirmation-related surgeries Monday afternoon, and the bill was subsequently unanimously adopted by the full House.

As the first and only statewide LGBTQ youth organization, the Pennsylvania Youth Congress (PYC) commends the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for their rejection of a CHIP bill that would have embedded discrimination against transgender youth. PYC has been leading the efforts for a clean CHIP reauthorization bill along with organizations including the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

“Ensuring that a clean CHIP bill becomes law will save lives,” said Jason Landau Goodman, Executive Director of PYC, “the Senate made a cruel decision to use transgender children as a wedge issue. The House said no, and passed a clean CHIP bill for the second time. It is now up to the Senate to do the right thing and concur on this legislation quickly so healthcare can be assured for the nearly 200,000 Pennsylvania children that depend on this vital program.”

Many trans youth and parents have reached out to PYC from across the state in support of the life-saving support that CHIP has given them, including a parent from Montgomery County who stated that, “my child’s emotional well-being and life is at stake. My child suffers from anxiety and depression and has been admitted twice into inpatient facilities for suicidal ideation. Losing coverage for my child would be devastating. There is absolutely no way we could have afforded these treatments without the help of CHIP.”

A 17 year-old from Allegheny County echoed that sentiment, saying, “if it had not been for CHIP covering my medical transition, I would not be alive today. Hormone replacement therapy has changed my life in so many amazing ways. Thanks to CHIP, I can look in the mirror and sincerely say that I am myself, I can sleep easy knowing I am headed in the direction of my entire truth being lived.”

PYC encourages concerned individuals to contact their state Senators and express their desire that the clean CHIP bill be passed with no exclusions of coverage for trans youth. Having this House vote take place during the same week as Transgender Day of Remembrance is a sobering reminder of the daily acts of anti-trans violence that occur in our world and highlights the importance of fighting for inclusive, responsible legislation that does not discriminate against any group, regardless of gender identity or expression.