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California proposes prioritizing gender-affirming care in medical licencing

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(The Center Square) – California is proposing that medical license applicants who wish to practice gender-affirming care be moved to the top of the licensing queue.

Under existing law, individuals seeking medical licenses as abortion practitioners already receive expedited licensing from the Medical Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, the Board of Registered Nursing, and the Physician Assistant Board.

If AB 2442, introduced by Assembly Member Rick Zbur, D-Los Angeles, passes, “an applicant who demonstrates that they intend to provide gender-affirming health care and gender-affirming mental health care” would receive the same expedited licensing.

To receive the expedited licensing, intent to practice gender-affirming care — which could include physical and mental care — an applicant would have to include a letter from an employer with a prospective start date and scope of practice.

“In 2023, 185 bills were passed nationwide to limit or eliminate access to gender-affirming health care. This pervasive wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has particularly harmed transgender youth, as highlighted by the Williams Institute’s estimate that approximately 156,500 transgender youth live in 32 states where access to gender-affirming care has been restricted,” Zbur said in a statement. “AB 2442 ensures that licensure applications for providers of gender-affirming care are prioritized to ensure a robust network of providers in the state is able to meet the needs of out-of-state patients.”

For some patients, gender-affirming surgeries can be risky. A California study found that while patients who underwent phalloplasties (female-to-male surgeries) had no change in suicide rates after surgery, remaining at 0.8% (the same as the general population), those who underwent vaginoplasties (male-to-female surgeries) experienced a more than doubling of suicide risk, with suicide risk rising from 1.5% to 3.3% post-surgery.

Last year, California Governor Newsom signed SB 345 into law, which provides legal protection to health care practitioners located in California who provide or dispense medication or other services for abortion, contraception or gender-affirming care to out-of-state patients.

“An estimated 36 million women of child-bearing age now live in states that have outlawed abortion. There’s also an alarming movement of states criminalizing gender-affirming care,” said State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, in a statement.

Idaho and Alabama had adopted since-blocked laws preventing individuals from crossing state lines to receive abortions.