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Californians challenge transgender sanctuary law

A lawsuit claims the state undercuts parental rights

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco (right) in Sacramento, Calif., March 17, 2022 Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, File

Californians challenge transgender sanctuary law

A southern California advocacy group is suing to block a state law that allows minors to receive hormonal treatments and other transgender interventions without parental consent. The law denies parents the right to their child’s medical information relating to what it calls “gender-affirming healthcare” and blocks states from halting transgender procedures or reuniting parents with runaway children.

Advocates for Faith & Freedom filed on behalf of Our Watch, a conservative advocacy group founded by 412 Church Temecula Valley Pastor Tim Thompson. The suit asserts that the law violates the due process clause under the 14th Amendment and the full faith and credit clause, which requires states to respect the legal rulings and proceedings of other states. According to the lawsuit, Our Watch has had to divert resources from its other work to focus on educating people about the transgender sanctuary law.

“Parents, not the government, are best suited to decide whether their child should undergo life-altering drugs and surgeries that will impair their ability to become a parent later in life,” said Advocates for Faith & Freedom legal counsel Mariah Gondeiro. The nonprofit law firm filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on March 7, asking the court to rule the law unconstitutional and award damages to Our Watch, including attorneys’ fees and interest.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, representing San Francisco, authored and championed the legislation, Senate Bill 107, before Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law in September 2022.

“As so many states work to erase trans kids and criminalize their families, California must always have their back,” Wiener said in a statement upon the bill’s signing. “California is forcefully pushing back against the anti-LGBTQ hatred spreading across parts of our nation. The rainbow wave is real, and it’s coming.”

Wiener’s office further reported that the law inspired representatives from 19 other states to commit to introducing similar bills in their own states.

Other states continue enacting legislation protecting minors from receiving often irreversible puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and gender-transition surgeries. Last April, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey enacted a law criminalizing gender-altering medical procedures on children 18 and younger. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed authorities to open child abuse investigations into parents of children who have received transgender interventions.

Activist Chloe Cole sued a California hospital system and medical doctors last month for transgender treatments she received as a minor—including a double mastectomy. “As someone who has been harmed by these policies, it is imperative that we challenge SB 107 because it will allow vulnerable children from other states to undergo life-altering and harmful surgeries and drugs,” Cole said in a statement to Fox News.

Ernie Walton, a law professor at Regent University, criticized California’s overreach. “Parents have fundamental rights to raise the children—including making decisions relating to their healthcare and gender identity—and this law purports to deny parents that right,” he said. Yet he also believes this case might not be the vehicle for successfully challenging the law, no matter how unconstitutional. A judge might decide the plaintiff, Our Watch, lacks standing—that is, any real injury. A parent of a child who travels to California for gender-transition treatments would have standing, he said.

Lynn Marie Kohm, Regent University professor of family law, also points to the 1980 congressional Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which she describes as aiming “to prevent parents and states from doing just what California is trying to do—take jurisdiction over kids who have never resided there.” But despite the pre-existing legislation, Kohm predicts that California will let children stay by claiming the parent who wants to protect the child from treatment is abusing the child.

“Youth and children are simply ill-equipped to make these life-altering decisions, and any provision that severs the unity of the family should be immediately called into question and subsequently rejected,” argued Jason Thacker, director of research and chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Not only is true moral autonomy impossible, but we often fail to know what is truly best for us in many situations, especially when dealing with high-stakes gender-affirming care.”

No hearing has yet been scheduled on the lawsuit.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.


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