West Virginia bill would make it a felony to be Trans in front of minors

Share this Post:
Photo courtesy of West Virginia Legislature
Photo courtesy of West Virginia Legislature

A bill proposed in the West Virginia state legislature would make it a felony to "expose" minors to Transgender people, drag shows, or depictions of Trans people or drag queens.

The measure, SB 252, is the most draconian legislation to date targeting Trans people and drag performers.

According to the bill: "For the purposes of any prohibition, protection, or requirement under any and all articles and sections of the Code of West Virginia protecting children from exposure to indecent displays of a sexually explicit nature, such prohibited displays shall include, but not be limited to, any transvestite and/or transgender exposure, performances, or display to any minor."

The bill would also bar any so-called "obscene matter" within 2,500 feet of any school. The measure goes to specify the penalties for violations:

"Any adult, with knowledge of the character of the matter, who knowingly and intentionally distributes, offers to distribute, or displays to a minor any obscene matter, is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $25,000, or confined in a state correctional facility for not more than five years, or both."

Photo by Tami Chappell / Reuters  

Members of the Trans community, perhaps most notably TikTok journalist Erin Reed, expressed concern with the broad language of the proposed legislation. What exactly constitutes "exposure"? Would it be a felony, for example, simply to express your gender in a place where minors happen to be? A shopping mall? A grocery store? A church?

Would it become illegal for Trans parents to come out to their children?

Would it be a felony for a Trans parent or caregiver to pick up a child at school? Would it be considered a felony simply to express your gender in your own home if children are present?

Would Trans teachers have to quit their jobs?

What about advertising Trans community events? Would newspaper ads be forbidden because children might read the paper? How about social media posts?

The legislation is the most recent and most severe of a number of proposed state laws targeting the Transgender community. Many states have pending bills that would ban or seriously limit gender-affirming medical care for minors, in at least one case forbidding people under the age of 26 from receiving such care.