California Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is working to make California a refuge for trans youth from across the nation.
His proposed Senate Bill 107 is being considered by the state legislature at a time when trans youth and their families are under legislative attack from various states, including Texas, Idaho, Louisiana and Arizona, according to the bill’s fact sheet.
“SB 107 will provide a refuge to transgender youth and their families who are fleeing from any state that criminalizes gender-affirming health care,” the fact sheet reads.
Some examples of penalties for these vulnerable teens and their families include Texas’ new law that considers gender-affirming health care cases for minors as child abuse and Alabama’s legislation to make gender-affirming health care a felony for youth under 19, according to the fact sheet.
In response, Senate Bill 107 would “prohibit the enforcement of a civil judgment against a person or entity who allows a child to receive gender-affirming health care. (It would ) bar health care providers from complying with subpoenas requiring the disclosure of medical information related to gender-affirming health care. (And it would) prohibit law enforcement agencies from making, or intentionally participating in, the arrest of an individual pursuant to an out-of-state arrest warrant based on another state’s law against receiving, or allowing a child to receive, gender-affirming health care,” according to the fact sheet.
“I hope no one ever has to use this bill,” Wiener said last week in a Zoom interview. “The best result would be if we pass this bill and it’s never used.”
University of La Verne Professor of Educational Studies John Bartelt, who teaches courses in human sexuality, has a similar opinion.
“It’s a terrible thing that it’s necessary, but it’s a very good thing,” Bartelt said.
Professor of Management Kathy Duncan, who also supports the bill, said it makes her proud to be a Californian.
“We’ve often led the way when it comes to civil rights for all people, but particularly for LGBTQ+, so the fact that this would make us proactive against people fleeing other states to get the appropriate care for their children is wonderful,” Duncan said.
As proactive as Senate Bill 107 is, there are those that think it could be taken even further. Senior Adjunct Instructor of Educational Studies Linda Bartelt, who also teaches classes on human sexuality, is one of those people. She views this bill as the first step in the plan to ensure safety for the trans community.
“We have to have a lot of other steps backing this up,” Linda Bartelt said.
Linda Bartelt said she is concerned that trans youth will come to California looking for a sanctuary and will be turned away in certain places because of other laws. For example, she said the LGBTQ Youth Center on Highland Avenue in Los Angeles cannot house LGBTQ+ youth overnight if they are under 18 because they would be considered under other state laws to be aiding and abetting. She said she is curious to see what would happen with the aiding and abetting laws if SB 107 were to pass.
“I have faith in California legislators that if something else comes up that they will respond in a way that continues to protect all people’s rights,” Duncan said.
Duncan said she believes that the bill has come at the perfect time and that it is adequate for the time being.
“Now is the time to take the step before the first family comes here to take care of their children, and then another state tries to arrest them or get their medical records for prosecution later,” Duncan said.
Senate Bill 107 is making its way through the legislative process and will be up in committee in June. If the bill passes in late August, the Governor has until Sept. 30 to sign it.
Olivia Modarelli can be reached at email@example.com.