California governor Gavin Newsom, at odds with his fellow Democrats, has vetoed AB957, a bill that had been passed with overwhelming support in the state legislature. The bill was written to protect the health, safety, and welfare of transgender and non-binary children by classifying the lack of lifesaving parental affirmation of a child's gender as one of multiple factors that could be grounds to possibly lose custody of a child. 11th District Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, a Democrat and the bill's author, told CBS News: "no one is out to force your kids to be anything they shouldn't be. It's about really protecting children who are caught up in the family court system from a parent that is antagonistic or non-affirming." Experts have agreed that parents refusing to affirm a transgender or non-binary child's gender are engaging in child abuse. According to The Trevor Project: "family acceptance of LGBTQ youth is associated with positive mental health (Ryan et al., 2010), whereas higher rates of family rejection are associated with the opposite. For example, young adults from highly accepting families attempt suicide at significantly reduced rates compared to those in low accepting families (31% versus 57%) (Ryan et al., 2009)."
The issue of anti-transgender parents trying to take custody of children they don’t want to affirm isn’t a hypothetical. It’s a major issue Republican culture warriors are focused on. Last week: anti-LGBTQ+ extremists rallied outside of the Pasadena Courthouse in Los Angeles County to support a transphobic father in court trying to take custody of a transgender child from the gender affirming mother. One of the extremists used bear mace against pro-LGBTQ+ counter protesters at the entrance of the courthouse. No arrests were made and after the violence, the transphobic father's lawyer announced that the judge had recused himself from the case.
Republicans and far-right extremists like Leave Our Kids Alone, who have been filmed openly telling LGBTQ+ youth to hang themselves, are celebrating this move by Newsom. Fellow Democrats and LGBTQ+ rights advocates are shocked. "This is a stunning betrayal of trans people in the state," says transgender journalist Erin Reed. She continued, "I’m so sad for trans people, especially trans youth, in California. Governor Newsom’s vote will go down as one of the worst attempts at throwing an already marginalized community under the bus for political points." California is typically viewed as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ rights. But in recent months— anti-LGBTQ+ hate has become mainstream and illegal policies stripping transgender and non-binary children of basic civil rights have been steadily passing in multiple school districts across the state— spearheaded by Republican politicians and provocateurs. The Democrats, including Newsom himself, claim that they support LGBTQ+ rights. But actions speak louder than words. The truth of the matter is that some Democrats have no problem abandoning the transgender and non-binary community as Republicans openly call for the "eradication" of all transgender and non-binary people in the nation.