You have to be 16 obtain a driver’s license in California, 18 to buy a rifle, engage in consensual sex, or get married without parental consent, and 21 to buy a handgun, alcohol, or marijuana. But in the nation’s most progressive state, you only need to be 12 years old to privately seek and consent to treatment for gender transitioning.
The recently enacted California law was written to “provide that the rights of minors and nonminors in foster care, as described above, include the right to be involved in the development of case plan elements related to placement and gender affirming health care, with consideration of their gender identity.”
The new law also includes this provision: “All children in foster care, as well as former foster youth up to 26 years of age, are entitled to Medi-Cal coverage without cost share or income or resource limits. The Medi-Cal program provides transition-related health care services when those services are determined to be medically necessary.”
That means that all tax-paying Californians will help to pay for all the various services included in these transition cases, regardless of your opinion of the matter.
The law’s authors seem to mean well. The bill also states:
It is the policy of the state that all minors and nonminors in foster care shall have the following rights:
(1) To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where he or she is treated with respect.
(2) To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other abuse, or corporal punishment.
Those provisions within this law—and many of the others that follow them—are laudable at first glance. Who would oppose kids living in safe homes and being free of abuse? But meaning well often differs from doing well. The difference can be found in the sub-provisions that enunciate the methods for the well-meaning provisions. One provision says, for example:
The right of minors and nonminors in foster care to health care and mental health care described in paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 16001.9 includes covered gender affirming health care and gender affirming mental health care. This right is subject to existing laws governing consent to health care for minors and nonminors and does not limit, add, or otherwise affect applicable laws governing consent to health care.
Remember that the right to “gender affirming health care” extends to foster-care children as young as 12. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Children in this age group [12-14] might:
Show more concern about body image, looks, and clothes.
Focus on themselves; going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.
Experience more moodiness.
Show more interest in and influence by peer group.
Express less affection toward parents; sometimes might seem rude or short-tempered.
Feel stress from more challenging school work.
Develop eating problems.
Feel a lot of sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems.
What is the common link in all those points listed above? Immaturity. Adolescents are no longer little children, but they are not even close to being ready to make adult decisions. Choosing one’s gender—as if that really is a choice—is also certainly not a decision to be placed in the hands of one who “goes back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence,” or one who “experiences more moodiness,” or who “feels a lot of sadness or depression.”
Many studies have found that human brains take a long time to develop fully—as long as 25 years or more. That means that adolescents are at a distinct disadvantage in decision making. That’s why you see the immaturity issues listed in the CDC analysis above. Chronologically, adolescents are only about halfway to full brain development. Yet the new California allows—and almost compels—adolescents to make irreversible, potentially life-altering decisions.
“The vast majority of gender dysphoric children affirmed as the opposite sex go on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are permanently sterilized as a result,” the American College of Pediatricians states in “Protect Children: Vote No on AB 2119.” Should a 12-year-old be allowed to make a decision that might cause him or her to be permanently sterilized?
This presumably well-meaning law has placed children as young as 12 ahead of caring foster parents in making decisions that could render those children incapable of one day having and raising children of their own—children who would have one day grown up and made decisions of their own. Wise decisions, we would hope. Those capable of making wise choices must stand firm in the struggle against those who simply mean well.
Denise Shick is author of “My Daddy’s Secret,” “When Hope Seems Lost,” and “Understanding Gender Confusion.” She serves on the academic council of the International Children’s Rights Institute and directs Help 4 Families Ministry.
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