California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill into law Thursday making the state a refuge for transgender kids and their families who travel there to receive the gender-affirming care they’re banned from accessing in their home states.
The new law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1 next year, takes direct aim at Alabama and Texas for those two states’ efforts to criminalize parents who allow their transgender children to receive hormone therapy and other types of gender-affirming treatments.
“In California we believe in equality and acceptance. We believe that no one should be prosecuted or persecuted for getting the care they need ― including gender-affirming care,” Newsom said in a statement.
The new law will prohibit California law enforcement from cooperating with any out-of-state individuals or agencies regarding any legal gender-affirming care performed in California, as well as ban any compliance with an out-of-state subpoena related to such matters.
“The hate demonstrated by these laws is unfathomable and has contributed to soaring suicide rates,” Newsom said. “82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves, and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth.”
Those disturbing statistics come from a 2020 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence that found that interpersonal microaggressions and a lack of belonging at school are directly linked to suicide attempts by transgender kids. It’s very well–documented, meanwhile, that providing transgender youth with gender-affirming health care significantly improves their mental well-being and decreases their high risk of suicide.
The bill’s author, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D), applauded Newsom for signing the legislation. “California is forcefully pushing back against the anti-LGBTQ hatred spreading across parts of our nation,” he said in a statement. “The rainbow wave is real, and it’s coming.”
Nineteen other states have introduced bills similar to California’s, which Wiener pointed to as evidence of a massive pushback against transphobic legislation.
Texas began attempting to block gender-affirming care for youth in February after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a directive for state officials to investigate parents for child abuse if they help their kids access such treatment. A court has put a temporary hold on the policy, which the state is appealing.
In May, Alabama enacted its own version of the policy, making it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison for any medical providers to give such care to people under 19.