Pennsylvania, CHIP and Transgender Youth
I have generally avoided politics on this website. But staying silent in these troubled times is really no longer an option. Today, I want to tell you about something that I find bewildering and horrifying. And that is a mean-spirited amendment to the CHIP re-authorization bill. That amendment would prevent CHIP from covering transgender youths’ medical needs.
What is CHIP?
Here in Pennsylvania, as in every jurisdiction in the US, we have people who cannot afford health insurance. CHIP provides qualified children with health insurance. Over 170,000 children currently use CHIP for their medical care.
What am I Upset About?
I received an email just now from Equality Pennsylvania. The email states that Senator Don White wants to add an amendment to the CHIP reauthorization bill which would stop CHIP from covering transgender youth’s medical needs. To be clear, the amendment would not stop all medical care, but it would stop any medical care related to gender or sex reassignment surgery or sex transition services. Most disturbing, it wouldn’t even allow coverage of counseling services. You can view the amendment here.
Why Hurt Children?
Why would anyone want to prevent any specific group of children, who otherwise qualify for state-funded health insurance, from getting the full benefit of that health insurance? Have we reached a point where we are actually looking to harm children? Children who are among the most vulnerable out there, because they are struggling, even more than the average child, with figuring out who they are? Why? What is the purpose of marginalizing these already marginalized kids? Why forbid coverage for even counseling services, so children who are struggling with their gender identity can afford to get the mental health care they need? Are these children just supposed to suffer with no help whatsoever? Studies show that youth struggling with gender identity who receive early support do much better than those who do not. And yet, at the very time that these young people need help, this amendment would deny it to them. Perhaps Senator White is under the mistaken belief that stopping questioning youth from getting care will stop them from being transgender. Of course, it will not. It will simply make them hurt more.
What I Have Done
I have already reached out to my state Senator, Senator Daylin Leach, who I have absolutely no doubt is against this amendment. I met Senator Leach once, and I know he is someone who will stand up for these kids. I also called my state Representative, Representative Tim Briggs. I have never met Representative Briggs, but I hope that he will vote against this amendment. In addition, I called Senator Jake Corman. I asked Senator Corman to please leave this amendment off the bill. He has the power to do so. Last, I phoned Senator White. I left a message offering to talk with him about why transgender youth should not be discriminated against, why they need protection. I also told him about a group called Common Roads, which is a GLBT youth organization, and suggested he reach out to them. I also told him I hope that this is just a political stunt and he is a better man than introduction of such a hateful amendment would suggest.
What You Can Do
You can do what I did. Reach out to your state senator and representative. You can find out who they are by using this website. Then, you can call Senator Corman at 717-787-1377, and Senator White at 717-787-8724. I urge you to please act now. We do not know when this amendment will be introduced, but it could be as soon as tomorrow.
Children are not Pawns
We have many differences in this country. That is clear. But I hate to think that we have reached a point where we are using children as pawns to score political points. All children who are financially qualified for CHIP should be covered by CHIP. Period.