An updated bill in California has introduced the inclusion of “affirming” a child’s sexual transition as a requirement for parental responsibility and child welfare. This means that failing to affirm transgenderism for a child would be considered abusive according to the proposed California State Family Code.
AB 957 successfully passed California’s State Assembly on May 3, and subsequently underwent amendments by a co-sponsor in California’s State Senate on June 6. The proposed amendment to Section 3011 of the Family Code outlines several factors that the court must consider when determining the best interests of the child in custody proceedings.
This addition suggests that a parent’s support and affirmation of their child’s self-identified gender would become a crucial factor in evaluating the child’s well-being in custody cases.
This bill proposes two changes to existing law. First, it states that if one parent objects to a name or gender marker change to affirm a minor’s gender identity, the court should strongly consider that affirming the minor’s gender identity is in the child’s best interest. This does not require the court to side with the objecting parent but adds it as a factor to consider.
Second, in child custody proceedings, the court would be required to consider a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender identity when determining the best interest of the child. This bill does not uniquely impact parental rights and is in line with the court’s responsibility to make decisions based on the child’s best interest.
“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.
The proposed California bill that would charge parents who do not affirm transgenderism with child abuse has ignited a contentious debate. As the bill makes its way through the legislative process, it is likely to face further scrutiny and potential modifications.
The California Capitol Connection has opposed the bill as they believe it undermines the existing law that allows parents to object to their child’s request for a change of gender and/or name on official documents. They argue that the bill would force family courts to disregard parental objections and rule in favor of the minor’s request, arguing that parents should have the final say in major decisions affecting their children. They also referenced religious beliefs and natural gender distinctions as additional reasons for their opposition.
The California Parent’s Union also emphasized the importance of judges making objective and unbiased decisions based on the law and the facts before them, particularly when it involves a significant and potentially life-altering issue. The CPU highlighted the controversial nature of changing a minor’s gender and expresses concerns about the potential consequences of such decisions within the proposal.