Californian Bill AB-2218: Update

In the summer of 2020, a bill in the state legislature of California was brought to our attention. Authored by Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles and Scott Wiener of San Francisco, and written in close collaboration with many trans-led organizations, AB-2218 aimed to set aside $15,000,000 USD of general funding for trans-led organizations providing transition services to transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex individuals.

A member of our network local to California discussed the issue with our founder, and we agreed to lobby the bill's authors, its sponsors, and its reviewing committees, for an amendment to include detransition services for detrans individuals. We highlighted that none of the trans-led groups that would benefit from AB-2218 make any mention of detransitioners on their websites or in their published materials.

A petition was also created, which quickly exceeded 1,000 signatures. As a technicality, all requests for amendment in the state legislature must be filed in opposition to a bill's current form.

In our letters, tweets, and phone calls, we applauded the authors' good intentions, while we expressed concern that every trans and LGBT advocacy organization in history has to date ignored or even denied the validity of detransition and the existence of detransitioners. In the weeks that followed, our requests for amendment were largely ignored by the bill's authors, sponsors, and reviewing committees. This was disappointing but not unexpected. The work of advocating for medical and legal rights of detransitioners is a new and uphill battle.

At one point, a leading representative of one of the groups that stood to benefit financially from this bill wrote a smear piece about our campaign and network. This article made several false and unsubstantiated claims about our founder, membership, actions, and intentions. The author followed with many mean-spirited tweets against us and other detransitioners. We neither engage in nor condone such behavior, and we asked the publisher to revoke its publication.

Unfortunately discrimination is systemic not just in medicine and law, but also in journalism. Eventually the deadline to amend the bill passed, and while its dollar figure was removed, and its focus on trans-led organizations was stricken, detransition services and detransitioners were left unnamed.

At this point, we ceased our lobbying efforts, directed our limited resources elsewhere, and left the bill to its fate. Now, months later, our amendment request is still apparently an issue for some parties.

We would ask our trans friends to remember ten or fifteen years ago, when trans advocacy orgs were fighting for recognition and inclusion in the LGBT movement. Our requests for greater medical and legal rights now are not so different from those campaigns then. We hope that you will soon cease to see this as a zero-sum game.

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