Santiago Bill to Provide Critical Services to Transgender Community Passes Key Policy Committee

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) – Today, Assembly Bill 2218, authored by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and co-authored by Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) passed out of Assembly Health Committee with a 12-1 vote. Sponsored by a broad coalition of transgender-led organizations, this bill will provide critical medical and direct supportive services for transgender, gender non-conforming and/or intersex people, otherwise known as TGI.

“Everyone should have equal access to health care regardless of their gender identity,” said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago. “California’s TGI community is facing obstacles in receiving safe, non-discriminatory, comprehensive care, and COVID-19 has exacerbated these existing health care disparities. This fund will provide the means to create programs where TGI-identified people can receive safe, competent, and inclusive health care and other social services.”

“Now more than ever, we need to fund healthcare for transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex people. The LGBTQ community – and especially the TGI community – is continually underserved by our healthcare systems. As we live through a global pandemic, quality, nonjudgmental, supportive healthcare is even more important. I want to thank my colleague Assembly Member Miguel Santiago for his leadership on this issue," said Senator Scott Wiener, Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus.

“The creation of the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund will provide much needed resources to a growing population of Californians who deserve adequate, culturally competent and dignified access to healthcare. This is a step in the right direction for a more inclusive California,” said Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo.

“Assembly Bill 2218 is one that will completely change the health outcomes of TGI people across the state,” said Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition. “This legislation will not just affirm the existence of our community but will intentionally #InvestInTransLives for us to become healthy people in our beautiful state.”

“The Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund would provide holistic healthcare⁠ to a population that is already especially vulnerable to COVID,” said Alex Binsfield, Legal Director at the Transgender, Gender-Variant, & Intersex Justice Project. “This is a much needed intervention to ensure that a community that is often reluctant to seek medical care due to discrimination is able to access care during a pandemic.”

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that at least 218,400 individuals identify as transgender in California. Despite representing a significant portion of California’s population, TGI people are often left out of conversations regarding medical and mental healthcare policy and experience difficulty accessing inclusive healthcare. According to a 2015 study, approximately 33 percent of TGI people in the state who saw a health care provider in the past year had encountered at least one negative experience related to being transgender.

To address these inequities, AB 2218 would establish the first state funding to provide much-needed medical and mental health services and housing for TGI people. The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance Committee and the Assembly Select Committee on Los Angeles County Homelessness. He also sits on the Assembly Committee on Health, Public Safety, Higher Education and Utilities and Energy. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.