CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Opponents of a women’s fake bill of rights greatly outnumbered those who spoke in favor of the anti-trans legislation at a public hearing Thursday morning in the House of Delegates chamber.

HB 5243, falsely titled The Women’s Bill of Rights, does not actually confer any new rights to women. In fact, it states that women are not equal to men in the eyes of the law. The bill would seek to restrict transgender people from many restrooms, changing facilities and other public accommodations in the state.

Among those speaking against the bill were students, parents, faith leaders, and advocates from the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV).

Interim Executive Director Eli Baumwell reminded lawmakers that the bill is constitutionally suspect and would likely face legal challenges if passed into law.

“In the 2020 Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court held that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are so inexorably linked to sex stereotypes as to constitute sex discrimination,” Baumwell said. “The 4th Circuit, which is controlling for West Virginia in GG v. Gloucester County School Board relied heavily on this in a strong decision overturning a county rule restricting trans students’ access to restrooms.

“The Court found that the policy failed to meet even the “intermediate scrutiny” standard of sex discrimination. The Supreme Court in both cases was asked to intervene and chose not to, allowing these decisions to stand,” he continued.  

Of the seven people who spoke in favor of the bill, none spoke about the need to enshrine equal rights for women in law. Instead, proponents made clear what the bill was actually about: defining sex in a narrow, binary fashion that ignores science and excludes transgender people from many aspects of public life.

ACLU-WV will continue to monitor the bill as it moves through the legislature and will keep all legal options on the table if it should pass.