California law would distribute grants to clinics offering transgender hormones to children

Children are not the 'goal population' of the bill, but they're included in it, says advocate.

Updated: August 7, 2020 - 5:28pm

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A law quietly under consideration in the California statehouse would direct state-funded grants to clinics that in some cases could be distributing sterilizing hormones to children as young as 12 years old. 

AB-2218, a bill passed by the California State Assembly in June and currently being reviewed by the state Senate, would establish a state-controlled "Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund" for the purpose of "funding grants, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to transgender-led ... organizations and hospitals, health care clinics, and other medical providers that provide gender-conforming health care services," according to the text of the law. 

The legislation, titled the "Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund," claims that over 218,000 Californians identify as transgender; it also states that, in California, "27 percent, or 796,000, of youth 12 to 17, inclusive, years of age are viewed as gender nonconforming by their peers at school."

Along with numerous other provisions, the grants under the law would be distributed to a "hospital, health care clinic, or other medical provider that currently provides gender-affirming health care services, such as hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery, to continue providing those services," as well as to "a hospital, health care clinic, or other medical provider that will establish a program that offers gender-affirming health care services and has an established relationship with a Trans-led organization that will lead in establishing the program."

The law as originally written had allocated $15,000,000 to the "equity fund"; at some point in its pass through the assembly, that provision was crossed out, ultimately leaving the total amount to be distributed at the discretion of the legislature itself. 

Funding would be for 'all' transgender Californians, including children

None of the Assembly members associated with the bill — neither Miguel Santiago, who introduced it, nor coauthors Scott Weiner, Wendy Carillo or Lorena Gonzalez — would speak with Just the News about the legislation. Staffers in Scott Weiner's office directed Just the News to the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus; that office deferred to the TransLatina Coalition, an LGBT activist group in California founded in 2009. 

Michaé De La Cuadra, the policy and community engagement manager at the organization, acknowledged that children would be among the beneficiaries of the bill, but stated that they are not the principle demographic target of the legislation.

"This bill does not specifically focus on children nor are they the goal population of this bill," De La Cuadra said. "This bill is for ALL [transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex] people, young people included."

"Overall, it would increase the accessibility of TGI-inclusive services," De La Cuadra added. "We are looking at healthcare in a holistic way, so this funding would be able to be utilized for programs that address the holistic health needs of TGI people, such as mental, physical, and spiritual health."

"If funding is allocated, this would be the first time California has granted state funds specifically for the [TGI] community," De La Cuadra said, adding that "while California has undoubtedly provided funding for LGBTQI+ programs, there hasn’t been funding specifically for TGI-led organizations, programs, or healthcare."

Cross-sex hormonal treatment has been utilized by self-identified transgender individuals since the middle of the 20th century, though it has exploded in popularity in recent years, in part due to the increasingly visible presence of transgender individuals in media and throughout society. 

California law also allows foster care children as young as 12 to seek transgender medical treatment; those treatments are covered under Medi-Cal, the state's medicare program.

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