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Legislation to Protect TGI Youth Passes Senate and Assembly Floors, Now Heads to Governor Newsom’s Desk

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 – Today, the California State Assembly advanced Assembly Bill 957, The TGI (Transgender, Gender-Diverse, and Intersex) Youth Empowerment Act, authored by Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City) with overwhelming support. Earlier this week, the California State Senate also passed AB 957; the bill now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk..

AB 957 centers the health, safety, and welfare of a child by recognizing that a parent’s affirmation is a crucial protective factor in combating depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

TGI youth are greater risk of depression, mental health challenges, and suicide than their cisgender peers. According to recent data, 54 percent of California transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide, and 19 percent of California transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide in the past year. These rates of considering suicide and attempting suicide are dramatically higher for transgender youth than for cisgender youth.

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 family rejection. LGBTQ+ youth learn to value and care about themselves when they are valued by their parents and family1 . 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.

“I would like to express my extreme gratitude to my colleagues for passing AB 957 with such overwhelming and strong support,” said Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City). “As the mother of a transgender son, these issues are critical to me. Research demonstrates that family acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth is a crucial protective factor in combatting depression and substance abuse. Well rounded social support from friends and family members is strongly associated with positive mental development, physical health and overall well-being. I look forward to working with Governor Newsom to secure his signature and ensure that our youth are protected. Thank you to all of the Senators, staff and stakeholders who have worked with my office on updating the language to get the bill where it is today.”

“Centering the needs of trans youth at this moment is critical in resisting gender based violence and transphobia. Trans youth deserve respect, compassion and protection from the slew of anti-trans legislation that already exists. Our youth deserve a future where they are no longer under attack and able to live their best lives!” said Ezak Perez, Executive Director of Gender Justice LA, “Gender Justice LA's community members include parents and children who would be impacted by AB957. The time is now to show up for our TGI youth!”

“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.

1 Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children. By San Francisco State University