Ensuring Trans and Gender-Fluid Youth in Foster Care Are Able to Access Gender Affirming Medical and Behavioral Health Care Services
Southern California’s Walden Family Services, a foster family agency and provider of housing and supportive services for older foster youth, supports Assembly Bill 2119 and urges Gov. Brown to sign the bill into law.
This transgender rights legislation, if approved, would provide transgender and gender-fluid youth in foster care access to medical and behavioral health care consistent with their gender identity.
Studies show that rejecting a trans or gender-fluid child or youth’s identity can result in the youth engaging in behaviors that put their health at risk; trigger depression and other mental health problems; and – in the worst of cases – result in homelessness or suicide. Too often, trans and gender-fluid youth in the child welfare system have experienced this sort of rejection, so it is essential that the providers – and families – charged with their care are affirming of the youth’s identity and that any health or behavioral health care (counseling services, substance abuse treatment, etc.) are supportive and appropriate to the needs of the youth.
Transgender and gender fluid youth are overrepresented in California’s foster care system. Child welfare agencies are already required to assess the health and behavioral health needs of all young people in foster care, and to ensure they receive appropriate and timely care to address the needs identified by qualified professionals. AB 2119 will make clear that, to meet this existing obligation for trans and gender-fluid youth, child welfare agencies must ensure access to clinicians who provide gender-affirming treatment, consistent with established standards of care.
Please join Walden Family Services in urging the Governor to approve this bill.