Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2218 into law, a bill that allocates a portion of the state’s budget toward grants for transgender treatments and surgeries for adults and children.
The bill establishes what is called The Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. “The Fund will assist organizations serving people that identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or intersex (TGI), and help create or fund TGI-specific housing programs and partnerships with hospitals, health care clinics and other medical providers to provide TGI-focused health care,” said the bill’s author, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D – Los Angeles).
“This is a critical measure for our transgender community and I thank Governor Newsom for his steadfast leadership in signing AB 2218,” said Santiago. “California’s TGI community has long faced obstacles in receiving safe, nondiscriminatory, comprehensive care, and COVID-19 has exacerbated these existing health care disparities. This bill will help create programs where TGI-identified people can receive safe, competent, and inclusive health care and other social services.”
In a press release, Governor Newsom praised California for having “some of the strongest pro LGBTQ+ laws in the nation”, and called the new bill “an additional step forward” in the state’s “march toward equality.”
The bill states that 218,400 people identify as transgender in California, and that 27% of youth aged 12 to 17 are “viewed as gender nonconforming by their peers.” It also highlights the high rates of suicide and physical, mental, and emotional disabilities in the transgender population.
The bill establishes a fund in the State Treasury to rectify the problems experienced by the transgender community and to provide “TGI-competent health care.”
But before being signed, the bill faced fierce pushback from voters, religious leaders, and even doctors, and transgender people who have undergone sex change treatments.
Dr. Quentin Van Meter was one of those who raised concerns about the bill and testified against it. In his testimony (which can be viewed here), he pointed to testimonies of children who continued to experience mental health issues even after undergoing sex-change therapies. He called the use of treatments on children a “carousel” that is, “in the end, a circular hell”.
Many have pointed to the fact that the sex-change treatments that the bill would fund have a high likelihood of causing infertility in children too young to make such future-altering decisions.
While supporters of the legislation decried its critics for inciting fear unnecessarily, the California Family Council has pointed out that medical centers currently administering sex-change treatments to children openly admit in their consent forms that provided medications are used for blocking puberty and that the treatments “will likely lead to infertility.” (See the consent forms provided by the Center for Transyouth Health and Development).
Laura Perry, a woman who formerly identified as a transgender man and who traveled to California for a double mastectomy, was also among those testifying against the bill. “I really thought it was going to fix the problem,” she said of her mastectomy experience. “…I remember being devastated after a few weeks when I realized that my surgery hadn’t made me a man.”
Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R – Bakersfield) also spoke out against the bill: “The government should not be in the business of incentivizing doctors to rush young children to make a decision that is life-altering and irreversible before they’ve even reached emotional and physical maturity.”