California Bill Would Punish Parents Who Don't 'Affirm' Their Child's Gender Identity

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June 8, 2023

A newly revised California bill would make a parent’s refusal to "affirm" a child’s transgender identity grounds for denial of custody or visitation rights.

The legislation, which already passed the state Assembly, would require any judge hearing a custody dispute over a trans-identifying child to favor a parent who "affirms" the kid’s preferred gender. On Tuesday, the authors of the bill released an updated version that defines "the health, safety, and welfare" of a child to include "a parent's affirmation of the child's gender identity."

Critics say the bill, as now written, could lead judges to treat as abusers parents who are anything less than fully supportive of their child’s claims to be transgender.

"When you say that gender affirmation is in the child's best interest for health, safety, and welfare, it takes nothing to say [non-affirmation] is now abuse because you're not taking care of the health, safety, and welfare if you’re not affirming them," said Erin Friday, a San Francisco attorney and co-lead of the parent coalition Our Duty.

"It's not a giant leap–it's a tiny step to get there. We know exactly where they are going with it. I didn't think the bill could get worse, but it got worse."

The bill, known as A.B. 957, is California Democrats’ latest move to enshrine left-wing gender ideology in law. State senator Scott Wiener (D.), who coauthored the measure along with Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D.), is simultaneously advancing a separate bill that would require foster parents to promise to "affirm" the gender identity of trans-identifying children. In 2022, Weiner introduced a first-in-the-nation law making California a "haven" for out-of-state minors to obtain sex-changes treatments without parental consent.

Meanwhile, Texas GoGreg Abbott (R.) declared last year that helping kids get such treatments amounts to child abuse.

The California bill does not define "affirmation," leaving it unclear if a parent would be required to support a child’s desire to socially transition or receive medical sex-change treatments. Nor does the bill make distinctions based on a child’s age or mental health record.

Wilson's spokesman disputed that the revised bill is significantly different than the previous version and noted that A.B. 957 only relates to family law. It would not make parental "non-affirmation" a crime.

"It's not saying [affirmation] is the most important factor or determining factor," the spokesman, Taylor Woolfork, said. "It's one of many factors that the judge should consider while working out a custody agreement."

Wiener's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The bill easily cleared the Assembly in late March with the support of 51 Democrats, although 16 lawmakers refrained from voting, most of them Democrats. The updated version is slated for a Senate committee hearing next week.