County of Santa Clara Declares Commitment to Safe Healthcare for Gender Diverse Individuals

The support for gender-affirming care comes amidst national backdrop of harmful anti-LGBTQ+ laws

 SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. —The County of Santa Clara’s Board of Supervisors declared on Tuesday August 29 its commitment to safe and supportive healthcare for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-diverse individuals. The Board approved a resolution that explicitly supports gender-affirming care, a move to solidify protections for the community against harmful anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been passed in other states.

Gender-affirming care includes a range of interventions designed to support and affirm a person’s gender identity. This sort of care fosters respect, understanding, and empowerment – and is vital to improving the quality of life for individuals across the gender spectrum.

“The County of Santa Clara will not sit on our collective hands while fear-mongering and legislative bullying around gender-affirming care slithers across the country. These policies inflict direct harm on our children, their families, and their future,” said Supervisor and Board President Susan Ellenberg. “Gender-affirming care is healthcare. Santa Clara County is committed to improving the quality and accessibility of care for all residents, including all transgender and gender-expansive children.”

The County joins forces with leading medical organizations, human rights groups, and health agencies in recognizing the pressing need for equitable access to comprehensive healthcare services. The World Health Organization and the American Medical Association acknowledge gender-affirming care as medically necessary, highlighting its positive impact on individuals’ overall well-being. This care model prioritizes informed consent and personal autonomy, ensuring individuals have the agency to make decisions about their care and treatment.

Discrimination and bias against transgender and nonbinary individuals have been shown to lead to mental health challenges, substance use, and even suicidal ideation. A stark reminder of this was noted in the 2013 County of Santa Clara Status of LGBTQ Health Report, which showed that nearly half of transgender respondents had seriously considered suicide or self-harm within the previous year.

In 2019, the County took measures to address these health matters by opening the Gender Health Center, the first clinic in the South Bay to specialize in care for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-diverse individuals of all ages. In January 2022, the Board of Supervisors approved funding for the Behavioral Health Services Department to create a specialty mental health Gender-Affirming Care Clinic to complement the health services offered at the Gender Health Center. Most recently, in May 2023, the Board approved the Mental Health Services Act Innovation Project to create a Transgender Wellness Center in Santa Clara County.

County leaders invite all members of the community to stand together in support of gender-affirming care and continue to pave the way for a healthier and more vibrant future for all residents.

Below are more thoughts from other members of the Board of Supervisors:

Supervisor Sylvia Arenas, District 1“It is vital that each child can access the care they need to live their lives fully. Gender-affirming care has a positive influence on the health and development of children and youth and research has demonstrated that early access is important. Our county thrives when our young people feel safe and empowered to lead their lives as their authentic selves – in medical environments and beyond.”

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, District 2: “I am proud that the Board of Supervisors has reaffirmed Santa Clara County’s support of gender-affirming care and LGBTQ+ rights. The lawsuit filed this week by the state attorney general against the Chino Valley Unified School District shows that the LGBTQ+ community is under legal attack, even here in California.”

Supervisor Otto Lee, District 3“This resolution is so important. Gender-affirming care is not merely medical care; it’s a lifeline, validating a person’s authentic identity and ensuring their mental and physical well-being. Politicians without medical expertise interfering with a family doctor’s care is not only foolish but dangerous. I thank Supervisor Ellenberg for bringing this to the Board.”