Newsom signs bill protecting transgender youths fleeing red-state laws

Gov. Gavin Newsom once again heralded California as a haven from discriminatory policies in conservative states, signing legislation Thursday aimed at protecting transgender youth and their families from bans on gender-affirming care.

Senate Bill 107 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) provides a set of safeguards designed to block attempts from out of state to punish families who come to California to seek medical treatment for transgender children and youth seek or move to the state to avoid consequences if you are already receiving this treatment elsewhere.

In a signing message, Newsom said state laws attempting to ban medical care for transgender people under the age of 18 “demonize” the community and are an act of hate.

“In California we believe in equality and acceptance. We believe no one should be prosecuted or prosecuted for receiving the care they need — including gender-affirming care,” Newsom said. “Parents know what is best for their children and they should be able to make decisions about their children’s health without fear. We must advocate for parental choice.”

The new law prohibits California courts and attorneys from enforcing subpoenas requested by other states for gender-affirming child care and prohibits healthcare providers from providing medical information.

The bill also states that any potential out-of-state arrest warrant for violating laws related to such care will be given “the lowest prosecution priority.”

“While attacks on the transgender community are not new, we are seeing alarmingly blatant attempts to use laws, policies and political rhetoric to limit or eliminate the autonomy, freedom and existence of transgender people across the country,” advocacy group Equality said California in a statement supporting the bill.

California’s bill comes after more than 20 Republican-led states passed legislation to ban gender-affirming medical care for young people and penalize parents and health care providers who allow it.

The actual passage of guidelines to limit this care has largely stalled as states face legal challenges at the federal level. In August, a federal appeals court in Arkansas ruled that the state could not enforce its ban on transgender children receiving gender-affirming medical care.

But Wiener said California cannot count on such blockades to continue.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen on appeal or if states will find other types of legislation to take to court,” Wiener said in an interview ahead of the bill’s passage. “It would be utterly negligent for us to say that we won’t do anything until one of these laws is upheld and someone goes to jail.”

Whether SB 107 itself will be upheld in court is also in question, as states must recognize out-of-state laws when residents travel.

Last-minute amendments to the bill include a severability clause because “it is unclear whether this bill will be unconstitutional,” according to a legislative analysis of the measure. Divisibility allows parts of a law to remain in effect even if other provisions are removed.

Acknowledging that uncertainty, Wiener said the bill was carefully crafted to avoid violating the US Constitution, but said California should not function as “the law enforcement arm of the states of Texas or Alabama.”

“The US Constitution may give us limits, but we’re going to push the limit of what we can do to protect it and say, ‘Unless we’re absolutely compelled to send you back, we won’t go for you send back,'” he said of potential families of transgender youth who may come to California.

California has also designated itself a “state of refuge” for those seeking abortion, which several states banned after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Roe vs. Wade, the historic 1973 ruling granting a legal right to the procedure, cancel.

As with California’s attempt to support out-of-state residents seeking abortion, the impact of SB 107 is difficult to gauge because many people in other states do not have the opportunity or financial resources to suddenly move to California.

“We cannot solve everything in one calculation. We make sure that people who are criminalized have a point of contact,” said Wiener. “This bill is about giving people sanctuary.”

According to the World Health Organization, gender-affirming care encompasses a range of “social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions designed to support and affirm a person’s gender identity.”

Depending on the age of the child, these can be hormones and puberty blockers. The World Professional Assn. for Transgender Health recommends some surgeries for patients ages 15 and older, under new guidelines released in June.

Conservative groups opposed the law. The California Family Council, which routinely opposes laws pertaining to LGBTQ rights, said SB 107 encourages “medical child abuse.”

Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), who is running against Newsom for governor, said children “really don’t know how to identify themselves” and said the legislation would involve the state in family custody disputes.

“If one parent is in favor and the other is against, the state will be in the middle of that decision now,” Dahle said in the Senate before voting against the measure. “This bill basically brings the state into your home.”

Supporters of the bill included Lt. gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and Equality California. Newsom signs bill protecting transgender youths fleeing red-state laws

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