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California lawmakers pass bill allowing transgender foster youth to access transition-related care

Transgender youth will be able to access hormones and mental health services to assist their transition

The dome of the Capitol building in Sacramento – Photo: Alex Wild, via Wikimedia.

California lawmakers have passed a historic bill ensuring that transgender youth in foster care will be able to access medical care, including hormones and mental health counseling, in order to assist them with their transition.

The bill, introduced by openly gay Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), mandates that the California Department of Social Services develop guidance by 2020 that outlines best practices for ensuring that transgender youth are aware of their options and can access Medi-Cal services if they choose to pursue hormone or other medically necessary treatments.

Earlier this week, the bill was approved by the Senate, which made a series of technical amendments earlier this week. Those changes were then approved by the Assembly on a 53-22 vote. The bill now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his signature into law.

“The passage of AB 2119 today is a momentous sign of hope for transgender foster youth living in the system growing up feeling neglected, forgotten, or out of place. With this bill, I hope those foster youth will be assured that we see you, we care about you, and there is a place for you in California,” Gloria said in a statement. “AB 2119 will empower transgender foster youth to live authentically and simply be themselves. Governor Brown now has the power to make that a reality.”

The bill’s passage comes three years after Brown signed a bill requiring child welfare workers and caregivers to consider the gender identity of transgender youth when determining an appropriate placement. 

Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur has said the bill will save lives.

“[The bill] gives LGBTQ foster youth room to focus on other important aspects of their lives, including succeeding in school, building healthy relationships, and fully engaging in positive youth development programs,” Zbur said in a statement.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights also hailed passage of the bill.

“Every young person in foster care deserves, and is entitled to, medically necessary health and behavioral health care,” Shannan Wilber, NCLR’s youth policy director, said in a statement. “The harms caused by the denial or delay of medically necessary care are particularly acute for transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth, who often encounter barriers to receiving the care they need to ensure their health, safety, and well-being.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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