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10 Jun 2023
Katherine Hamilton

NextImg:CA Bill: Non-Affirmation of Child’s 'Gender Identity' Against Child's 'Best Interests' in Custody Disputes

A proposed California bill treats a parent’s refusal to affirm their child’s “gender identity” as against the child’s health, safety, and welfare in custody disputes. 

The bill, AB-957, states that “in making a determination of the best interests of a child in a [custody dispute], the court shall, among any other factors it finds relevant and consistent with [the law], consider the following: the health, safety, and welfare of the child” and that those factors “include[s] a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity.”

The legislation’s text, which was updated earlier this week to specifically include parental affirmation of gender identity as part of the “health, safety, and welfare” of a child, has already passed the State Assembly. Opponents of the bill are concerned the wording would open the door to “non-affirmation being treated as abuse,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“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,” Erin Friday, a San Francisco attorney and co-lead of the parent coalition Our Duty told the outlet. 

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State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) co-authored the bill with Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D). Wiener is notably responsible for advancing another bill that would require foster parents to pledge to “affirm” children who believe they are transgender, according to the report. Weiner also introduced a “first-in-the-nation” law making California a “sanctuary state” for out-of-state minors seeking sex change procedures and puberty blockers without parental consent.

Related: Doctors Trained to Affirm Children’s Transgender Identification

A spokesman for Wilson “disputed that the latest revision changes” the bill, saying it only pertains to family law, not criminal law, according to the report.

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

The bill passed the Assembly at the end of March with the support of 51 Democrats; however, 16 Democrats declined to vote. The changes to the bill were announced on Tuesday ahead of the legislation’s First Senate committee hearing next week, according to the report. 

The Free Beacon noted that the updated language does not place parameters around what “gender affirmation” means and that it lumps refusing to affirm a child’s preferred gender with a parent’s history of substance abuse, physical abuse, or neglect when considering custody dispute cases. 

“The bill makes no distinctions regarding the age of a child, how long a child has identified as transgender, or affirmation of social transition versus medical sex-change treatments,” the report added. “Critics, who were already worried that A.B. 957 would wipe out custody or visitation rights of parents who don’t conform to gender ideology, expressed alarm over the change in language and how it could lead to abuse claims.”

Related — Dem Rep. Sorensen: Can’t Ban Kids from Gender Transitions, “Understanding” as They’re Growing Doesn’t Happen at “Arbitrary 18-Year Mark”