Trans issues top CA 2022 LGBTQ legislative push

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday April 20, 2022
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Several LGBTQ-related bills are being heard in Sacramento. Photo: Courtesy CA Assembly
Several LGBTQ-related bills are being heard in Sacramento. Photo: Courtesy CA Assembly

California legislators are once again pushing forward on a number of bills aimed at improving the lives of the state's transgender and nonbinary residents. And due to the legislative attacks on trans children in several other states, lawmakers in Sacramento are also focused on assisting those youth and their parents who are trying to access gender-affirming health care.

In addition to improving transgender medical care in the Golden State, lawmakers have introduced bills that will require California community colleges not to deadname their trans and nonbinary students, faculty or staff; require the governor to annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance; and create an advisory body for a statewide pool of funds for trans services that would be renamed the Transgender, Gender-Variant, and Intersex (TGI) Wellness and Equity Fund.

Other bills would protect LGBTQ people who want to become foster parents, establish a pilot project to assist LGBTQ youth receiving child welfare services, and require affordable housing builders to contract with LGBTQ-owned businesses.

Tuesday, April 19, gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the language for the bill he plans to officially introduce this month that will make California a refuge for trans kids and their families persecuted by their own governments in states such as Texas and Idaho.

The Idaho House of Representatives passed legislation last week to make it a felony for parents to allow their children to receive gender-affirming care, while similar policy is under consideration by lawmakers in Louisiana and Arizona. In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott is appealing a state court decision that put on hold his directive that state agencies consider removing trans children from their parents and placing them in foster care.

State Senator Scott Wiener. Photo: Courtesy Wiener's office  

"California can and should be a place of refuge for trans kids and their families," stated Wiener.

He is gutting and amending his Senate Bill 107 he had introduced last year regarding the state's CalFresh program in order to establish protections for parents who bring their trans kids to California to access gender-affirming health care. (Gut and amend refers to a lawmaker swapping out the language of a bill they had initially filed with completely new provisions because the deadline to file a new bill has passed.) He had announced his intention to author the bill in March but had been awaiting legal guidance on it.

Wiener shared the bill language via Twitter in hopes of seeing other state legislatures also adopt it. SB 107 would make it California policy to reject any out-of-state court judgments removing trans kids from their parents' custody for allowing them to receive gender-affirming health care.

It also would bar compliance in California with any out-of-state subpoena seeking health or other related information about people who come to California to receive gender-affirming care for the purpose of criminalizing such individuals or removing their children from their homes. And it would make clear that any out-of-state criminal arrest warrant for someone based on violating another state's law against receiving gender-affirming care is the lowest priority for law enforcement in California.

"We will not stand idly by while a new generation of trans kids is marginalized, criminalized and subjected to violence and hatred," stated Wiener. "SB 107 will ensure that California pushes back against this vile new trend that could cost the lives of innocent children who just want to live as their authentic selves."

Wiener is also the author of SB 923, the TGI Inclusive Care Act, which passed out of the Senate Health Committee by a vote of 8-2 earlier this month. The Senate Appropriations Committee will now take it up.

As the B.A.R. noted in February, when Wiener introduced the legislation, SB 923 would require medical professionals who interact with transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex patients to receive cultural competency training, and health providers would need to create searchable online directories of their gender-affirming services.

"Proper gender-affirming care can alleviate a patient's mental and emotional distress and lead to significant improvements in the overall well-being of the TGI community. We are grateful that TGI people will be able to receive the health care they deserve as human beings," stated Dannie Ceseña, the transgender health equity manager for the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, after the bill received the backing of the health committee.

If enacted into law SB 923 would also require the state to track and monitor complaints made by trans patients about the health care they received and publicly post findings in health regulators' annual reports or websites. The Health and Human Services Agency would also be mandated to convene a working group of various representatives to develop quality standards with input from at least three TGI-serving organizations on recommended training curriculum.

"SB 923 will ensure that California providers treat patients with the culturally competent and respectful care that they deserve," stated Wiener. "This legislation will set a new standard nationwide for what truly inclusive gender-affirming care looks like."

SB 923 builds on the state's Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund created in 2020 and allocated $13 million last year. The Office of Health Equity within the state Department of Public Health administers the fund and awards grants to organizations providing trans-inclusive health care.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), who was a main champion for the fund's creation, is back this year with his Assembly Bill 2521 to rename the fund as the TGI Wellness and Equity Fund. It also would require the health equity office to establish a community advisory committee of TGI individuals that would recommend which organizations and entities should receive funding and how much each grant should be.

"Thanks to the Assembly Health committee for passing #AB2521! This bill increases TGI voices in TGI Wellness and Equity Fund by creating a TGI advisory board," wrote Santiago in an April 5 tweet.

The legislation is now before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) is the author of AB 2315, which would require the governing board of each community college district in California to implement a process by which students, staff, and faculty can declare an affirmed name, gender, or both name and gender identification to be used in records where legal names are not required by law. The community colleges would need to be in compliance with AB 2315 commencing with the 2023—24 academic year.

It builds on a bill adopted last year that prohibits the state's community colleges and public universities from deadnaming trans and nonbinary students — that is using their former names they were given based on the sex they were assigned at birth — on their diplomas and academic records. AB 2315 is awaiting a vote by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

"Assembly Bill 2315 seeks to minimize the chance that a student or faculty member or staff member is deadnamed while attending or working at a California community college. This is an important issue because not everyone uses their legal name for a variety of reasons," Arambula told the B.A.R. "Specifically, this bill will ensure that transgender and non-binary individuals have the right to choose a name, without fear of being outed, bullied, discriminated against, or becoming a victim of violence. It's a matter of dignity and understanding."

AB 1741, introduced by gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell), chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, would require the governor to annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event, started in 1998 by B.A.R. Transmissions columnist Gwenn Smith, commemorates those transgender people lost to violence in a given year.

The bill is awaiting a vote by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.

"I'm very pleased to see this happening. In a time when so many other states are attempting to legislate trans lives and trans history out of existence, it is all the more important to see California lead the way in honoring people lost due to anti-transgender violence and hatred," stated Smith. "This is a small but important move that shows the state cares."

A bill would require California community colleges, like City College of San Francisco, not to deadname their trans and nonbinary students, faculty or staff. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Bills focus on LGBTQ youth
Lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) authored AB 2466 to bolster protections for LGBTQ foster families. The bill, passed out of the Assembly Human Services committee April 5 and awaiting a final floor vote, would explicitly prohibit an agency that places foster children from declining to place a child with a resource family because a resource family parent identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. It would also scrap the usage of the phrase "hard-to-place children" in state codes.

AB 2417, the Youth Bill of Rights by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would require incarcerated youth, many of whom are LGBTQ+, to be informed of their existing rights under state and federal law and have easier access to that information. It passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday (April 19).

Under AB 2663 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland), the state Department of Social Services would establish a five-year pilot project called the Youth Acceptance Project in counties that volunteer to sign up for it. The state agency would contract with the nonprofit Family Builders by Adoption to provide therapeutic-style support and intervention services to LGBTQ+ youth who receive, or are at risk of receiving, child welfare services.

LGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, and their families who are struggling with accepting the youth's sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, would also be eligible to receive services through the project. A clinician or social worker would be in charge of the services, which the bill specifically requires to be designed to increase acceptance among a LGBTQ+ youth's parents, caregivers, foster parents, adoptive parents, extended family members, social workers, and additional staff involved in a youth's care.

The state agency would have to submit a report to the Legislature with an evaluation of the pilot project, which would end on January 1, 2030. The bill is to be heard by the Assembly's Human Services Committee April 26.

Other bills for LGBTQ families, businesses
AB 2029 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) would prevent health care service plan contracts and health insurance policies from restricting infertility treatment and fertility services based on such traits as a patient's sexual orientation or gender identity. It also would require religiously affiliated health care service plans and health insurers to cover the treatment of infertility, as they currently have an exemption from doing so. The bill is to be heard April 26 by the Assembly Health Committee.

Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) is again focused on making death certificates more equitable to LGBTQ people, having passed legislation last year that added nonbinary as a gender option on the forms. This year she has co-authored with Cervantes AB 2436 to require death certificates to list a decedents' parents without referring to the parents' gender.

The change would benefit LGBTQ+ parents as they navigate estate proceedings and other matters following the death of a child. The bill is awaiting a vote in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, having been passed out of the Assembly Health Committee in late March.

The STI Prevention & Treatment Fairness Act, SB 1234 authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), would expand access to services related to the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections to income-eligible patients who have confidentiality concerns, including LGBTQ+ patients, through the state's Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment program. Such patients would be reimbursed for the cost of their care, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature and any potential draw down of federal matching funds. The Senate Appropriation Committee placed the bill in its suspense file Monday, April 18, to be voted on at a later date.

AB 2873, authored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), would require applicants to the state's low-income housing tax credit programs, as well as any of their subsidiaries and affiliates, to annually submit a report to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee on how they plan to increase procurement from LGBT business enterprises and those owned by women, minorities and disabled veterans.

The bill would also require the state committee to include in its annual reports beginning in 2023 a summary of the commitments made by affordable housing companies to increase their working with the various business enterprises and their progress toward meeting those goals.

The Assembly Housing And Community Development Committee was scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday (April 20).

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