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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 9, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 41
California gets first-in-the-country Transgender health benefit law
Two additional laws benefit LGBT Californians
Section One
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California gets first-in-the-country Transgender health benefit law
Two additional laws benefit LGBT Californians

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

California got a first-in-the-country Transgender equality law when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 703 on October 7.

The measure requires all companies that do $100,000 or more worth of business with the state to offer their Transgender employees exactly the same health care and other benefits as they do for cisgender workers.

The law will take effect January 1, 2016. It was introduced by California senator Mark Leno of San Francisco and sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, and the Transgender Law Center.

'California law already stipulates that employers cannot deny transgender people health care and other benefits, but a loophole in state law has allowed companies that contract with the state to refuse equal health coverage,' Leno said.

'This bill closes that loophole. Denying equal benefits to employees at the same company based on gender identity is harmful and wrong.'

'In signing SB 703, Governor Brown has made California the first state in the nation to refuse to contract with businesses and other entities that discriminate against their transgender employees in benefits,' said NCLR Government Policy Director Geoff Kors.

'Once again, California's governor and legislature are leading the nation in ending discrimination and ensuring that taxpayer funds don't go to those who discriminate.'

Heathcare that includes surgery as well as other transition services is necessary for Trans people, but is often denied by employer-paid health care plans. SB 703 makes complete health care coverage for Trans workers a requirement for all companies seeking to do business with the state.

'When transgender people are denied equal access to health care, we are singled out for serious health risks and financial hardship,' said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi in a statement. 'Providing equal benefits makes economic sense and will help protect transgender workers and our families.'

Brown also signed two other measures that will benefit the LGBT community.

AB 959, the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act, will ensure that LGBT individuals in California have their health needs more accurately monitored.

Sponsored by Equality California, the bill allows state agencies that oversee health and well-being programs to collect voluntary information about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) when collecting other types of demographic data.

'While we have accomplished much in recent years, both in California and nationwide, eliminating healthcare disparities suffered by LGBT people is one of the next major chapters of our movement,' Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a statement.

'The pervasive discrimination still confronting our community shows up in our overall health, with high rates of substance abuse, depression and suicide, but we can't begin to treat the problem if we don't know its size. This legislation will help public programs target those most in need.'

Brown also signed AB 960, which provides that unmarried couples using assisted reproduction to have children will be recognized as legal parents on the same terms as married parents from the moment their child is born. The law benefits LGBT couples who use home insemination methods to have children.

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