A new law was signed on Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown that ensures access to hormone treatment, counseling, and surgery for children who identify as transgender.
Assembly Bill 2119 was signed into law Friday, which clarifies that foster youth can have these forms of treatment paid for by the state’s health insurance program for lower income individuals as well as children in the foster care system, Medi-Cal.
Access to hormone and surgical treatments if deemed medically necessary is already available to anyone who has Medi-Cal coverage, but this law defines “gender affirming” health and mental health care as a right for foster youth as well as allowing them involvement in developing their case plans.
“The right of minors and nonminors in foster care to health care and mental health care … includes covered gender affirming health care and gender affirming mental health care,” reads AB 2119.
“This right is subject to existing laws governing consent to health care for minors and nonminors and does not limit, add, or otherwise affect applicable laws governing consent to health care.”
Democratic Assemblymember Todd Gloria introduced bill AB 2119 in February and was backed by several LGBT advocacy groups.
“AB 2119 affirms the right of foster youth to be able to access health services reflective of their gender identity – meaning these children can grow up safe, healthy, and be exactly who they are meant to be,” said Gloria in February when the bill was introduced.
According to the Williams Institute and UC Los Angeles’ School of Law, LGBT youth are significantly overrepresented in the foster care system, with approximately 19% of foster youth in Los Angeles County are LGBT, which is around 1.5 to 2 times their numbers in the general population. Of this number, 11% identify as gender nonconforming and 5% identify as transgender.
Socially conservative California Family Foundation members say that such treatment is dangerous for foster youth. Endocrinologist for Sutter Health, Michael Laidlaw, testified against the bill in June.
“A licensed professional or other individual should not subject the foster child to any treatment, intervention or conduct that seeks to change the foster child’s identity,” Laidlaw stated earlier this year.
Laidlaw also pointed out the many risks associated with gender transitioning, including how a female who chooses to transition to a male has to be given as much as 80 times the normal amount of testosterone than what normally occurs in the human body.
“Look at the science carefully. Get other medical opinions before passing this bill, you can save the health and lives of many foster kids, by doing so,” he added.
“Doctors and psychologists have absolutely no way of diagnosing with certainty who is a true trans child and who has gender dysphoria confusion,” Laidlaw continued.
The American Psychological Association says that many children who experience gender dysphoria do not continue it into childhood.
Under California law, foster children who are over the age of 12 may consent to mental health counseling and treatment, while medical and surgical care requires consent from the foster child’s parent, licensed caregiver, social worker, a judge, or in some cases, the youth themselves, according to the law.
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