(Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA)

California continues to evolve on LGBT rights. Now, more than ever, the LGBTQ+ Californians are better protected because of the four legislations that Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law. 

“California has some of the strongest pro LGBTQ+ laws in the nation and with the bills signed today, our march toward equality takes an additional step forward,” said Governor Newsom. “These new laws will help us better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community, establish a new fund to support our transgender sisters and brothers and advance inclusive and culturally competent efforts that uphold the dignity of all Californians, regardless of who you are or who you love.”

Among the laws signed by Governor Newsom is the SB 1255 introduced by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and the Senate Committee on Insurance. SB 1255, titled Equal Insurance HIV Act, ends the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people living with HIV.

Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D) said in a statement:

I am very grateful for the support of my Senate and Assembly colleagues on this critical legislation. This is a huge step to ensure that Californians living with HIV and their families have equal access to life and disability income insurance coverage.

Governor Newsom also signed AB 2218 by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), better known as the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. This means that transgender, gender nonconforming, or intersex (TGI) individuals now have better access to housing and health care.

How will the Fund accomplish this? 

According to Governor Newsom’s page, the Fund will “help create or fund TGI-specific housing programs and partnerships with hospitals, health care clinics and other medical providers to provide TGI-focused health care.”

“This is a critical measure for our transgender community and I thank Governor Newsom for his steadfast leadership in signing AB 2218,” Assemblymember Santiago said. “California’s TGI community has long faced obstacles in receiving safe, non-discriminatory, comprehensive care, and COVID-19 has exacerbated these existing health care disparities. This bill will help create programs where TGI-identified people can receive safe, competent, and inclusive health care and other social services.”

The third bill signed by Governor Newsom is called SB 132 by Senator Scott Wiener (D) which was co-sponsored as well by the following: TransLatin@ Coalition, TGI Justice Project, Equality California, ACLU of California, Lambda Legal, Medina Orthwein LLP, and Transgender Law Center. 

Senator Scott Wiener is the Chair of the California Legislative LGTBQ Caucus.

With the passage of SB 132 into law, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is now required to house inmates who identify as transgender, nonbinary, and intersex based on their gender identity. In addition, CDCR is required to “record the individual’s self-reported gender identity, gender pronouns and honorifics throughout an inmate’s term.”

 “Thank you Governor Newsom for once again proving you are a champion for LGBTQ people,” Senator Wiener said in a statement.  

Senator Wiener added:

SB 132 is life-saving legislation that will protect trans people in prison, particularly trans women who are subject to high levels of assault and harassment in men’s facilities. And, SB 932 ensures our community will no longer be invisible, and that we will be counted by our public health system. Today is a great day for California’s LGBTQ community and yet another example of California’s deep commitment to LGBTQ equality.”

Lastly, SB 932, which was mentioned above, was also introduced by Senator Wiener. 

It will ensure “comprehensive data collection to understand how COVID-19 is impacting the LGBTQ+ community.” Further, this legislation will “provide public health officials with more information on patients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, which is essential to addressing health inequities and designing public health interventions that help California’s diverse communities.”

Simply put, with the passage of SB 932, health providers are now required to “track COVID-19 and all other communicable diseases in the LGBTQ community.” According to San Francisco Chronicle, advocates called this “crucial for catching outbreaks early and combating stigma in the public-health system.”

Read the story in full here.

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