California could become a haven for trans youth seeking care

Governor Gavin Newsom could make California a sanctuary state for young transgender people as a bill to guarantee gender-affirming care hits his desk.

The California Senate and Assembly have passed a bill that would prevent other states from taking legal action against California medical providers who provide care to patients from states where gender-affirming treatment is restricted.

The bill would protect health care providers from lawsuits and require medical information to be kept confidential. It would also prevent California police from arresting vendors in the state for violating other states’ laws and would make out-of-state warrants a low priority.

Equality California, California’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group and the nation’s largest statewide queer organization, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“Attacks on the transgender community are nothing new,” the group wrote in a statement explaining its support for the bill. The Sacramento Bee reports. “But we are witnessing alarming and egregious attempts to use legislation, policy and political rhetoric to restrict or eliminate the autonomy, freedom and existence of transgender people across the country.”

Since March, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed by state lawmakers across the country. Half ostensibly target transgender people. SB 107 comes in response to states such as Alabama and Arkansas that have passed laws banning gender-affirming care for trans youth, though those laws are temporarily blocked by legal proceedings.

“A particularly pernicious type of anti-transgender legislation that several states have passed or are considering passing is legislation aimed at preventing gender-affirming medical care,” says a Senate analysis of SB 107, according to the Bee.

The analysis also concludes that lack of access to gender-affirming care is a key cause of mental health problems among transgender youth. He cites a study revealing that 86% of trans or non-binary youth have suicidal thoughts, while 56% have attempted suicide.

The bill was drafted by Senator Scott Wiener. “Our Trans Safe Haven Bill is on its way to the Governor after receiving final Senate approval!” he tweeted in response to his passing. “SB 107 sends a crystal-clear message to the nation: No matter what vile anti-LGBTQ hate laws right-wing politicians think of, California will stand with our community.

Newsom, a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, has the rest of this month to sign or veto the bill.