Gloria Introduces Legislation to Give Foster Youth Access to Healthcare Consistent with Gender Identity

Monday, February 12, 2018

Gloria Introduces Legislation to Give Foster Youth Access to Healthcare Consistent with Gender Identity

SACRAMENTO, CA – California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and a coalition of supporters including Equality California, Lambda Legal, American Civil Liberties Union, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights announced today the introduction of AB 2119 – statewide legislation that would establish the right of foster youth in California to access gender affirming healthcare and behavioral health services.

We know that transgender and gender nonconforming youth are at much higher risk for developing serious negative health conditions. This is especially true for those youth in our foster care system,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “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.”

AB 2119 would require county health and human services agencies – more specifically, child welfare offices – to ensure gender affirming healthcare and/or behavioral health services are available to foster youth who request it personally or requested by the youth’s caregiver, attorney, Court Appointed Special Advocate, or social worker.

Under the bill, “gender affirming healthcare or behavioral health services” is defined as “health care or behavioral health services that respect the gender identity of the patient as experienced and defined by the patient.” This would include gender transition – meaning aligning one’s gender presentation closer to one’s gender identity.

This bill addresses a critical public health crisis in California: lack of access to medically necessary primary care for transgender and gender nonconforming youth in foster care,” said Dr. Johanna Olson Kennedy, medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “These youth need and deserve the same access to healthcare guaranteed to all youth in out-of-home care, and this legislation will promote the health and well-being of some of the state’s most vulnerable young people.”

According to the Williams Institute and UC Los Angeles’ School of Law, LGBTQ youth are significantly overrepresented in the foster care system. Approximately 19 percent of foster youth in Los Angeles County are LGBTQ, which is about 1.5 to two times their numbers in the general population. Of this number, 11 percent identify as gender nonconforming and five percent identify as transgender. Nearly 13 percent report being treated poorly while in the foster care system, compared to less than six percent of non-LGBTQ foster youth.

The full text of AB 2119 can be accessed here. The bill will now be referred to the appropriate Assembly committees for consideration. Assemblymember Gloria is a member of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus and the Majority Whip of the California State Assembly.