CA May Become ‘Refuge’ for Persecuted Out-of-State Trans Kids

A new bill would protect transgender minors and their parents from legal action if they come here from states where care is criminalized

Transgender children and their families who come to California from states where gender-affirming health care is being criminalized would find a safe haven here under new legislation proposed Thursday.

A bill introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would keep families together by rejecting out-of-state court judgments seeking to remove transgender children from their parents’ custody because they had received gender-affirming health care. It would also block subpoenas pursuing information about people traveling to California to receive such care, and would flag warrants related to those medical treatments as “the lowest priority for law enforcement” in the state, according to the Bay Area Reporter.

“Trans youth already face numerous barriers to receiving the health care they need,” Wiener’s office said in a news release. “Studies have shown that access to gender-affirming care for trans kids reduces risk for depression, psychological distress, and suicidal ideation. With this bill, California will continue to be a leader in protecting the civil rights and basic dignity of LGBTQ people and will help trans kids and their parents have a safe place to go if they are threatened with prosecution or criminalization for being who they are and seeking the care they need.”

Wiener’s bill—which is co-sponsored by Equality California and Planned Parenthood and is backed by Democratic leadership—rebukes states like Texas and Idaho, where politicians have attempted to pass policies that would prosecute parents who let their children receive gender-affirming care.

Though such legislation has been halted so far due to national outcry, similar bills have been introduced in red states across the country, the Los Angeles Times reports. A related bill “could be on the House floor for a vote anytime” in Alabama, according to a tweet from the Human Rights Campaign.

“What states like Texas and Idaho are doing to trans kids and their parents is unconscionable, and we must send a clear signal that California is a place of refuge for LGBTQ people,” Wiener said in a statement.

“The history of the LGBTQ community is a history of criminalization and violence: society trying to erase us and then punishing us if we refuse to be erased, whether by death, incarceration, beatings, lobotomies, electric shock therapy, conversion therapy or other forms of violence. California will not be a party to this new phase of deadly LGBTQ criminalization,” he added.

Just last week, the Idaho House of Representatives passed legislation to make it a felony for parents to allow their children to receive gender-affirming care, Wiener’s office said. The bill was ultimately killed Wednesday by the Idaho Senate, with Republicans saying that although they do not support transgender health care for youth, medical decisions should be left to parents, the Times reports.

Also last week, a Texas judge blocked the state from investigating gender-affirming care for children after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called for families with transgender kids receiving medical treatment to be inspected for child abuse.

Given the recent trend of anti-LGBTQ bills popping up in Republican-controlled states around the country, Wiener said there’s no doubt that others “will pursue similar legislation and executive action.”

“The rights and lives of trans youth are under attack throughout the country by bigotry,” Assemblyman Alex Lee (D-San Jose), who co-sponsored Wiener’s legislation, said in a statement. “With this bill, we are making it clear that California will not abide to out-of-state subpoenas, and that we will continue to welcome trans, gender nonconforming, and intersex people.”

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