California Has New Laws Protecting Trans Prisoners, LGBTQ+ Health

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two bills that provide added protections for the LGBTQ+ community. The laws ensure queer Californias are represented in tracking of communicable diseases and mandate transgender prisoners be housed according to their identified gender rather than the gender assigned at birth. Both bills were authored by State Senator Scott Wiener and were co-sponsored by Equality California among others.

“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,” Governor Newsom said in a statement.

“Today, California took a big step toward LGBTQ equality and inclusion,” Senator Wiener concurred.

Senate Bill 932 requires health care providers in the state provide the sexual orientation and gender identity, if known, for reportable communicable diseases. It is the first of its kind in the nation and came in response to issues that arose in tracking the impact of the global pandemic on the LGBTQ+ community.

Senate Bill 132 mandates incarcerated transgender, nonbinary, and intersex individuals within the California Department of Corrections and  Rehabilitation be housed according to the sex with which they identify. Currently, all prisoners are assigned according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

“While President Trump unleashes endless attacks against the transgender community, California is ensuring incarcerated transgender people are afforded the respect, agency and dignity that every person deserves,” Rick Chaves Zbur, executive director for Equality California, said in a statement.

State Senator Wiener made headlines recently when he received death threats after closing a loophole in California law that discriminated against LGBTQ+ teens and adults. The old law gave judges leeway to decide in certain cases whether placement on the registry would be inappropriate if the disparity in age was relatively close and the minor was not younger than 14 for cases involving vaginal intercourse, but did not allow the same leeway for cases involving non-vaginal sex acts.

Newsom signed the two bills into law over the weekend, and Zbur recognized the significance of the signings for trans prisoners.

“This bill is going to save lives,” he said.

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