The California Assembly has passed a bill declaring the state a sanctuary for minors who want to receive gender-affirming procedures, but critics say that the bill undermines parental rights, gives the state custody of children, and possibly enables “legal” kidnapping of children in order to give them gender-affirming experimental treatments.
SB 107 declares the state a “refuge” for those seeking gender-affirming treatments. The legislation prohibits law enforcement from issuing a subpoena to, arresting, or extraditing a person guilty of violating another state’s law against performing gender-affirming procedures on minors and also prevents authorities from removing children from the custody of parents who allow their children to undergo these procedures.
The bill also states that “a provider of health care, health care service plan, or contractor shall not release medical information related to a person or entity allowing a child to receive gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care in response to any civil action, including a foreign subpoena, based on another state’s law that authorizes a person to bring a civil action against a person or entity that allows a child to receive gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Wiener, D, tweeted, “Our trans state of refuge bill is on its way to the Governor after just receiving final Senate approval! SB 107 sends a crystal clear message to the nation that no matter what vile anti-LGBTQ hate laws right-wing politicians think of, California will stand with our community.”
While proponents claim the bill protects children and their parents who want to pursue gender-affirming procedures, critics say it takes away parental rights and grants the state authority in making custody decisions. The bill says, “A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this state and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to, or threatened with, mistreatment or abuse, or because the child has been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care.”
The bill also declares that California has jurisdiction if the child and a parent or the child and someone “acting as a parent have a significant connection with this state.” It later states that “the presence of a child in this state for the purpose of obtaining gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care” is sufficient to establish this significant connection.
Erin Friday, an attorney and the mother of a child who struggled with gender dysphoria, testified against the legislation. Friday said that the bill “makes California the refuge for all children who want to get access to any kind of gender interventions. No questions asked, no real mental health assessment, minimal diagnosis, and no parental consent. So long as the minor child can get to California, she can order up any kind of irreversible treatment.”
She explained, “If the child gets to California, California takes jurisdiction over the custody of that child. … If that child gets onto California soil, California courts will decide the custody of that child. California courts can decide not to give those parents custody of their own child. California courts can decide that that child is better off going into foster care because those parents in that other state won’t agree to, quote-unquote, gender-affirming care.”
Some claim the law could protect kidnappers who take children to California for gender-affirming procedures. Matthew McReynolds, a senior attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute, said the bill “takes a flying leap over the precipice, actually declaring that it will welcome and protect kidnappers — including parents who have been adjudicated as unstable and unfit to care for their children — as long as the adult absconding with the child says they are doing so to put the child into gender-hormone therapy or some other Orwellian gender-affirming care.”
Indeed, the bill contains a provision that declares that it will protect such activity:
“In making a determination under this section, a court shall not consider as a factor weighing against the petitioner any taking of the child, or retention of the child after a visit or other temporary relinquishment of physical custody, from the person who has legal custody, if there is evidence that the taking or retention of the child was a result of domestic violence against the petitioner…or for the purposes of obtaining gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care…for the child and the law or policy of the other state limits the ability of a parent to obtain gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care for their child.”
Chloe Cole, a 17-year-old girl who formerly identified as a male and underwent gender-affirming procedures, including the removal of her breasts and testosterone administration, testified against the bill. She said that as a 13-year-old she did not understand the “ramifications of any of the medical decisions I was making.” She said that her parents were told the only options were transition or suicide, so her distraught parents complied. “No one explored why I did not want to be a girl.”
She went on to describe the effects of her “treatments,” explaining, “I will never be able to breastfeed a child. I have blood clots in my urine. I am unable to fully empty my bladder. I do not yet know if I’m capable of carrying a child to full term. In fact, even the doctors who put me on puberty blockers and testosterone do not know.”
Chloe said that “children cannot consent” and suggested that instead of embracing and encouraging gender-affirming treatments, California should be putting in place the necessary safeguards “so my story is not repeated.”
“Who really believes that, as a 15-year-old, I should have had my healthy breasts removed or that it should’ve been an option?…How many more bodies will be destroyed before you listen? 100? 200? 1000? SB107 will open the floodgates for confused children like me to get the gender interventions that many so regret. I am the canary in the coal mine.”
The state assembly heard Chloe Cole’s testimony and yet they still passed this horrifying bill. They heard what is happening to teenagers around the country who experience confusion over their gender. They heard that teenagers are sent to therapists who insist that their only choice is to undergo dangerous medical procedures that will radically alter their bodies forever. And they passed this bill knowing that it will result in more teens like Chloe — a lot more.
This is an evil piece of legislation that purposefully deceives people, harms innocent children, and sows discord within families — all actions that Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us that God hates. And make no mistake: This legislation will have severe consequences for children, families, and society. It allows adults to leverage the gender confusion of children in custody battles. It grants the state power to decide whether parents who oppose gender transition can retain custody of their children. And it could allow LGBTQ activists and other unrelated adults to legally “kidnap” a child and bring him or her to California to undergo Frankensteinian treatments without any parental knowledge or involvement.
As Chloe reminded lawmakers: Children cannot consent. They don’t have the cognitive ability, the maturity, or the understanding of long-term consequences to consent to cutting off body parts or permanently altering their endocrinology.
Other state laws prohibiting the gender transition of minors aren’t aimed at taking away parental rights — they are aimed at protecting children. Wiener called those laws vile, so he instead pushed for a law which will increase the number of children undergoing traumatic gender transitions and allow California to intervene in taking away parental rights — not because parents were complicit in mutilating their child’s healthy body, but because they opposed it.
Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”
While this verse is a command for Christians to speak truth to one another, we are also called to speak truth to non-Christians. The gender debate is based on deception — the lie that people were created incorrectly and the lie that a person can change their gender. It is critical that Christians refute these lies and never, ever reinforce them, because, ultimately, the only antidote to deception and delusion is telling the truth.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.