California Leads Country with Bill to Protect Transgender Youth in Foster Care
NCLR says, “Transgender youth often experience severe trauma before entering foster care. We cannot allow this trauma to continue while they are in care.”
California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria has introduced a bill to ensure access to gender affirming care for transgender youth in foster care. Studies have shown that delaying or denying this care for youth can lead to depression, anxiety, social problems, school failure, self-harm, and even suicide. The bill is the first of its kind in the country and is supported by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), ACLU of California, Equality California, Lambda Legal, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
“Transgender youth often experience severe trauma before entering foster care. We cannot allow this trauma to continue while they are in care,” said NCLR Youth Policy Director Shannan Wilber. “Young people in the custody of the State must have access to the healthcare and support they need to thrive.”
Current law gives foster youth the right to receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health services and to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity. The proposed legislation would make clear that foster youth also have the right to access gender-affirming health care and behavioral health care. Gender-affirming care allows youth to explore their gender without stigma or shame and reduces risk of depression, substance abuse, and suicide attempts.
“It is critical that transgender and gender nonconforming youth in the foster care system know that they have a right to access gender-affirming health care. Denying or delaying access to those services places already vulnerable youth at high risk of substance abuse, long-term mental health issues, suicide attempts, and community violence. This legislation will remove barriers to this life-saving care,” said Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Medical Director for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org