Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill offering protection to youths who are being denied gender-affirming care elsewhere
California will now welcome transgender minors and their families from other US states where local authorities have restricted access to gender-affirming therapy, according to new legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday.
"We believe that no one should be prosecuted or persecuted for getting the care they need - including gender-affirming care," the official proclaimed in a statement shortly after signing the bill.
The legislation, among other things, bans California healthcare providers from disclosing medical information in relation to other states' laws prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors. On top of that, the new bill prohibits the enforcement of a court order "based on another state's law authorizing a child to be removed from their parent or guardian based on that parent or guardian allowing their child to receive gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care."
From now on, a court in California is also authorized to take temporary emergency jurisdiction when a child has not been able to receive gender-affirming health care elsewhere, which typically encompasses measures ranging from mere counseling all the way to hormone therapy that delays puberty for those who want to change their sex. Some on social media were quick to suggest that this effectively means that California courts will be able to take custody of trans children if they flee their home states. However, Asaf Orr from Transgender Youth Project told Reuters that "this law simply clarifies that courts should retain jurisdiction in situations where a parent brings their child to California so that they can obtain medical treatment for gender dysphoria."
State Senator Scott Wiener, the mastermind behind the bill, tweeted that the new piece of legislation aims to protect minors and their families "if they're being criminalized in their home states." Wiener also criticized states "like Texas & Alabama [that] are seeking to tear these families apart."
Back in February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called on the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to probe any reported cases of minors receiving gender-affirming care. He also urged ordinary citizens to inform authorities of such suspected instances.
In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill that made providing gender-affirming medical care to people under the age of 19 a felony for medical professionals. However, the initiative faced opposition from a local court.
A similar law was passed in Tennessee in May, making the treatment needed for a transition between genders off limits to prepubescent minors.