Transitioning in West Virginia: Sebastian Stanhope

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sebastian Stanhope is a social worker from Morgantown who started his transition in June 2016. He emphasized that transitioning in West Virginia is difficult.

Sebastian Stanhope

“When I began transitioning, I was consistently mis-gendered and, you know, dead named. It was… It was frightening at times. And still is,” Stanhope said. “We’re also put on the same platform as pedophiles and it’s hard to deal with. The obstacles are ongoing, every day.”

Some of those obstacles included getting his gender changed on his ID through the DMV and receiving necessary healthcare. Stanhope has insurance, but local providers wouldn’t accept it. That left him needing to travel out of state to receive the healthcare he needed.

One other obstacle that Stanhope faced was getting his name changed through the court system. Stanhope explained that in West Virginia, there are a couple of steps that one has to take before getting their name changed for any reason, such as filing a petition to the courts and even announcing the change in the local paper.

West Virginia recently made history when Rosemary Ketchum was elected as West Virginia’s first openly transgender official in the state. Ketchum was elected to the Wheeling City Council. Stanhope stated that even though this is a huge step in the right direction for the transgender community in West Virginia, there is more work that needs to be done.

“People are afraid of us. People are afraid of the LGBTQ community in general, especially individuals who are trans.”

Sebastian Stanhope

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