HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Senate today passed legislation to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2019 and to prohibit coverage of transition-related surgical procedures for transgender patients covered by the program.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania was among the advocacy groups opposed to the additional language discriminating against transgender youth and calling for the Senate to pass a clean renewal of CHIP.

The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Writing discrimination against transgender youth into law is offensive and wrong. Senators used CHIP, an effective program to cover the healthcare needs of children, as a vehicle to advance their anti-trans agenda. Have they no shame?

“If this bill becomes law, we will consider any and all potential legal avenues to challenge it.”

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Martin of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, whose 13-year-old son is transgender and is a CHIP participant:

“I will do anything for my son. I want him to live his life as his true self, and while he’s not at the age of considering surgery, we’d like to have that option available.

“The Senate’s passage of this bill feels like a punch in the gut. They’re saying that my son’s healthcare needs aren’t important enough for coverage. The treatments he receives for his transition are medically necessary and life-affirming.”

The following can be attributed to Naiymah Sanchez, transgender advocacy coordinator at the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“The transgender community faces discrimination every day, and we will fight discrimination everywhere that it exists. CHIP is a valuable program for all children, and trans youth cannot be an exception. Their needs are as important and as necessary as those of any other child.”