Lambda Legal, on Friday, added its voice to the chorus of praise for AB 2119, which was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. His signing of the bill made California the first state in the union to explicitly guarantee gender-affirming health care for transgender youth in the state’s foster care system.
AB 2119 was introduced by State Assemblymember Todd Gloria and co-sponsored by Lambda Legal, Equality California, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Currey Cook, Lambda Legal Counsel and Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project Director, issued the following statement:
"AB 2119 is truly landmark transgender rights legislation, securing for California foster youth an explicit right to gender-affirming health care. Lambda Legal commends California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria, the entire California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown for this groundbreaking moment and their roles in making sure these lifesaving measures became law in the state of California.
“Across the United States, transgender and gender-nonconforming foster youth suffer greatly when their access to critical, affirming medical and mental health care is denied or delayed. California’s leaders have made history by making it clear that among the most vulnerable children in their state are guaranteed access to the care and services they need.
“AB 2119 ensures transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in the California foster care system have timely access to appropriate and gender-affirming medical care that meets their individual needs. The law requires that the California Department of Social Services, in consultation with the Department of Health Care Services, must issue guidance by Jan. 1, 2020, with specifics on how system professionals should ensure this right becomes reality for transgender youth in care.
“In its work in support of AB 2119, Lambda Legal helped Nathan, a transgender youth in the foster care system in Los Angeles who faced hurdles accessing gender-affirming health care, travel to Sacramento to share his story with legislators. He told lawmakers that ‘not being able to access the health care that I needed caused a lot of depression and stress. I felt very unwanted and just all of that, but since getting it, my mental health and everything has improved. I’m a lot happier and feel more important and happy that I’ve gotten access to something that I should have had access to from square one.’”
Lambda Legal articles and information on transgender rights and child welfare can be found here:
• Safehavens: Closing the Gap Between Recommended Practice and Reality for Transgender and Gender-Expansive Youth in Out-of-Home Care
• State-by-State Analysis of Child Welfare Systems
• Pennsylvania Lawmakers Are Trying to Prevent Transgender Children from Lower-Income Families from Receiving Health Care
• Nevada Passed Law Supporting Trans Young People in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems
*Lambda Legal uses Nathan’s first name only to protect his confidentiality as a young person in the foster care system.