By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – On Friday, Governor Newsom vetoed AB 957, a bill that would protect TGI (Transgender, Gender-Diverse and Intersex) Youth.
According to Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson of Suisun City, “AB 957 empowers parents who support their TGI children by clarifying once and for all that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the best interest of the child, allowing courts to consider a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender identity when making decisions about visitation and custody.
“As the mother of a trans child, it is jarring to know that TGI youth are at a higher risk of depression, mental health crises, self-harm and suicide than their cisgender peers,” said Assemblymember Wilson.
She added, “Family courts are required to consider a variety of factors when determining the best interest of the child for the purposes of custody and visitation, including the health, safety and welfare of the child, any history of abuse, and history of substance abuse. The TGI Youth Empowerment Act provides California the opportunity to take one step closer to building a safer, more dignified, and equitable world for TGI youth and their families.”
The bill would have required “courts to strongly consider that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the best interest of the child when one parent does not consent to a minor’s legal name change to conform with the minor’s gender identity.”
AB 957 would have provided “affirming parents the support they need when encountering civil procedures in court that pertain to affirming and uplifting the lives of their TGI children.”
However, for Governor Newsom this went too far.
He wrote in his veto message, “This legislation would require a court, when determining the best interests of a child in a child custody or visitation proceeding, to consider, among other comprehensive factors, a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression.”
The governor continued, “I appreciate the passion and values that led the author to introduce this bill. I share a deep commitment to advancing the rights of transgender Californians, an effort that has guided my decisions through many decades in public office.”
However, he said, “I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate—in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic—legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply. Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”
Moreover, “a court, under existing law, is required to consider a child’s health, safety, and welfare when determining the best interests of a child in these proceedings, including the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity.”
Senator Wiener was disappointed with the governor’s decision here.
“This veto is a tragedy for trans kids here & around the country. These kids are living in fear, with right wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports & restrooms & erase their humanity,” he said in a post on X.
The senator continued, “The level of right wing misinformation about this bill was astounding. All the bill did was ensure that in custody disputes, a court would take into account the kid’s gender identity & whether parents would be supportive of the kid as opposed to tormenting the kid.”
He added, “Governor Newsom has been such a staunch ally to the LGBTQ community. A true champion. Respectfully, however, this veto is a mistake.”