In 2017, the discussion surrounding hormone therapy for transgender minors in California experienced a course change. Until this change, hormonal therapy requirements limited the treatment to transgender children in California ages sixteen and older. Experts responsible for the change in legislation argued that removing the age limit and allowing children to undergo hormonal therapy at a younger age will benefit their overall physical transition and social transition. State policies regulating Hormonal Therapy for Minors must combat possible harmful mental health risks while allowing transgender minors to express themselves better and allowing parents of transgender children to support their children better.

Understanding Hormone Therapy

What is it?

Hormone Therapy is the process that an individual undergoes that alters their hormonal balance to match their gender identity. Typically, hormonal therapy has two commonly used names. These are Feminizing Hormone Therapy and Masculinizing Hormone Therapy. Feminizing Hormone Therapy and Masculinizing Hormone Therapy. The individual’s transition determines the hormonal therapy that an individual will undergo.

Feminizing Hormone Therapy

Feminizing Hormone Therapy is the form of hormonal therapy treatment used to induce female physical characteristics to appear. Feminizing Hormone Therapy is also commonly known as gender-affirming therapy. The patient will receive hormone dosages to induce female puberty during this process. If the patient begins the treatment process before the onset of male puberty, they may be able to avoid experiencing the physical changes of male puberty. Feminizing Hormone Therapy occurs by administering a medication intended to block the patient’s male hormone testosterone. A healthcare professional will then administer the patient a second medication to supply the body with the female hormone estrogen. Feminizing Hormone Therapy is not the same as Feminizing Surgery. These are two separate processes that a transgender individual has complete liberty in determining whether or not they would like to undergo.

Masculinizing Hormone Therapy

Like Feminizing Hormone Therapy, healthcare professionals use Masculinizing Hormone Therapy treatment to induce the development of male physical characteristics in biologically female bodies. Masculinizing Hormone Therapy is the same type of gender-affirming treatment that allows the patient’s physical appearance to match their gender identity. Like other forms of hormonal therapy, biologically female patients may be able to avoid the onset of female puberty if they begin treatment early enough. Further, the process of Masculinizing Hormone Therapy is essentially the same as Feminizing Hormone Therapy. However, instead of receiving estrogen to block the development of the male hormone testosterone, patients will receive the male hormone testosterone to combat the presence and further development of the female hormone estrogen.

Regardless of the direction of an individual’s transition, Hormonal Therapy of any kind is not a requirement for an individual to identify as transgender. All forms of Hormonal Therapy and Sex Reassignment Surgeries are optional, and the individual should decide to undergo them in agreement with their medical professional. Before the passage of AB 1184 in September of 2021, California state law required individuals under 18 to obtain parental consent to undergo medical treatment; this includes hormone therapy for the gender transition process. Additionally, all medical records relating to the health and care of the minor were able to be communicated and directly accessed by the parent. However, recent changes in legislation have changed this process.

Changes In California Legislation

AB 1184:

AB 1184 is a bill in California that regulates access to public records in California. The state of California enacted the bill in 2021. It is formally known as the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. AB 1184 requires state and local agencies to make public records accessible to the public for inspection, barring a few exceptions. The bill defines public agencies as state or local agencies and considers public records any written or electronically transmitted correspondence relating to public conduct. For minors in California who are undergoing hormonal therapy, the exceptions to public access of records provided by this bill limit parental access. Specifically, under the regulations of AB1184, insurance companies will record hormonal therapy on minors as a sensitive treatment; This classification limits parental access to information about the treatment.

Further, the wording of the bill requires that all information and correspondence relating to the following medical needs be directly communicated to the patient, regardless of if they are a minor:

  • Sexual Health
  • Reproductive Health
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • And Gender Affirming Care

AB1184 requires that correspondence relating to these matters be related directly to the patient regardless of whether the patient is a minor or the insurance policyholder is their parent.

Hormone Therapy for Minors

Like any individual considering the process of undergoing hormonal therapy as a part of their gender transition, individuals must consider the transition treatment seriously. Since the passage of AB1184 in California, minors now have substantially more liberty to undergo this treatment. This change in legislation now allows minors in California, age 12 and older, who have been deemed mentally competent and developmentally mature by a licensed mental health professional to consent to hormonal therapy without parental interference.

Medical research, public support, and state representatives brought this change in legislation to fruition due to the ever-changing status of transgender individuals in the medical field. Medical experts and California policymakers intended that the change allows for more flexibility in the process of gender transition. While the implementation of AB1184 in California does allow for increased flexibility while limiting parental access to medical records, it has not altered individual insurance policies. Therefore, whether or not their insurance policy will cover hormonal therapy treatment for a minor is entirely dependent on that individual’s insurance policy. Ultimately, the decision to undergo hormonal therapy is not a light decision. Because of this, most medical professionals advise minors looking into treatment to consult their doctors and parents to ensure that treatment is the best course of action for them.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one needs legal help with hormone therapy for minors, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.

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