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California Assembly Judiciary Committee Advances Bill to Protect TGI Youth

Authored by Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson, AB 957 will ensure that transgender, gender-diverse, and intersex youth have access to a legal system that affirms and protects them

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Assembly Judiciary Committee today advanced Assembly Bill 957, The TGI (Transgender, Gender-Diverse, and Intersex) Youth Empowerment Act, by Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City). AB 957 empowers parents who support their TGI children by clarifying once and for all that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the best interest of the child, allowing courts to consider a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender identity when making decisions about visitation and custody. The bill will also require courts to strongly consider that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the best interest of the child when one parent does not consent to a minor’s legal name change to conform with the minor’s gender identity. AB 957 will provide affirming parents the support they need when encountering civil procedures in court that pertain to affirming and uplifting the lives of their TGI children.

California has long demonstrated its commitment to protecting LGBTQ+ youth by advancing the availability of essential gender-affirming care and other support services. The state must continue to build on this foundation of protecting TGI youth in our state borders and our courts. The California Family Code is intended to center the best interest of the child in all decisions about visitation and custody. However, the Family Code currently fails to take into account this very vulnerable population of TGI children who are at increased risk of harm. LGBTQ+ youth learn to value and care about themselves when they are valued by their parents and family. Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth with high levels of family support are half as likely to report suicidal thoughts and nearly half as likely to report suicide attempts. The TGI Youth Empowerment Act will provide affirming parents the support they need from family court to continue to love and affirm their diverse TGI children.

“As the mother of a trans child, it is jarring to know that TGI youth are at a higher risk of depression, mental health crises, self-harm and suicide than their cisgender peers,” said Assemblymember Wilson.

“Family courts are required to consider a variety of factors when determining the best interest of the child for the purposes of custody and visitation, including the health, safety and welfare of the child, any history of abuse, and history of substance abuse. The TGI Youth Empowerment Act provides California the opportunity to take one step closer to building a safer, more dignified, and equitable world for TGI youth and their families.”

“Centering the best interest of the child is already a written policy of our family law system. This should hold true for our gender-diverse children as well,” said TransFamily Support Services and TransYouth Liberation Executive Director Kathie Moehlig. “Research shows that gender-diverse youth thrive in affirming homes. This bill will ensure that the courts will continue that long-held practice of centering the child's needs first.”

“While states across the country are attacking LGBTQ+ youth, California continues leading the way to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth are protected, healthy, and can live their authentic life in an environment that accepts and supports them,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Family acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth is strongly associated with positive childhood development, mental and physical health, and overall wellbeing. We applaud Assemblymember Wilson for her leadership to protect and uplift the lives of LGBTQ+ youth in California through AB 957.”

“Assemblymember Wilson’s AB 957 underscores familial acceptance as essential for transgender youth to live safely and proudly,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner. “As the tidal wave of anti-trans legislation continues to flood our country, it is especially vital for California to take a leading role in supporting the rights and dignities of our trans youth and their families.”

AB 957 is co-sponsored by the Women's Foundation of California, Equality California, TransYouth Liberation, Los Angeles LGBT Center, TransFamily Support Services, Gender Justice Los Angeles, the EmpowerTHEM Collective and the California TGI Policy Alliance.