A legislative proposal that would require courts to consider parents who support their child's transgender identity as acting in the best interests of the child has passed the California Assembly Judiciary Committee.
“AB 957 would center the health and welfare of TGI youth by acknowledging that affirming their gender identity is in their best interest,” she said. “As a mother of a trans youth, I experienced this firsthand in my own home. And we provided social support, not only from our family, but from our friends. And we began as we journey through this process with our own child, to be a caretaker to others who came to our home to seek refuge from non-affirming parents. This is personal.”
At the hearing, Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona) questioned the logic of legislation that would impose a “blanket policy” on family court judges to side with "gender-affirming" parents.
“I do recognize this as a deeply personal issue for you, and I appreciate you speaking from that perspective,” he said to Wilson.
But, he said, he couldn’t support the bill because it would exclude the voices of non-consenting parents and suggested it would infringe on parental rights.
“This bill doesn’t just say that the court should consider what’s best for the kid,” he said. “It makes a determination that the court must consider the parents’ affirmation because it is in the best interest of the child. So, my question is why do we assume that affirming a 7-year-old’s ... decision is always in the best interest of the child?”
Wilson replied that the bill would amend Section 3011 of the Family Code, which addresses custodial disputes hinged on what is in the best interest of the child.
“This particular bill adds the very important factor that affirming a child's gender identity is in their best interest,” she said.
The bill also seeks to amend Section 1277.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
If a 7-year-old is able to articulate “they are not the same gender as they are biologically, then it should be affirmed ... and that's what we did with our own child,” Wilson said.
TestimoniesTed Hudacko, a divorced father whose ex-wife supported the gender transition of one of their two sons, told the committee he lost custody of the boy because he hesitated to socially and medically transition him.
“My older son decided that he was a woman, after my ex-wife’s sister was brutally stabbed by her husband. He no longer wanted to be a man,” he said.
His son was placed on estrogen and puberty blockers, including one called Supprelin LA that requires a surgical implant, which violated court orders, Hudacko told The Epoch Times after the hearing. His son was 17 at the time.
“My son is now 18 and likely unable to father a child. Since the root cause of his trans identity was never explored, his comorbid mental health issues continue unabated,” he said at the hearing. “Soon he will become a lifelong medical patient needing hormone replacement ... for the rest of his life.”
Hudacko said he has been portrayed as “a villain” and “an unfit parent” because he wanted to get his son “the proper mental health care he needed” before rushing into transgender medical interventions when his son was still a minor.
“France, Australia, and New Zealand are not far behind,” he said. “These countries no longer recommend socially transitioning or medicalizing minors except in very limited research settings.”
Kathie Moehlig, founder and executive director of TransFamily Support Services based in San Diego, supported the bill, saying her organization has seen more than 3,500 transgender youth through their “gender journey” and helped their families navigate their way through family courts.
She said the proposed legislation “is simply adding gender affirmation to the current list of factors to be considered for custody and visitations” and would codify into law that affirming a child’s gender is in their best interest.
“We have served many families that have found themselves in family court with one parent who is following their lead and affirming their identity, and one parent who is not,” Moehlig said. “The court needs to have guidance on how to make these decisions and to be able to put the needs of the child first, as well as providing the affirming parent the support they need to continue to affirm their child's identity. This bill will do just that.”
Camila Camaleon, a trans activist and administrative coordinator at Gender Justice Los Angeles, also supported AB 957, testifying that the bill would help “parents who support their TGI children by clarifying once and for all that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the child's best interest.”
Camaleon accused opponents of spreading “misinformation” that parental rights are under attack.
Beth Bourne, whose daughter has identified as a boy since she was 14, said she disagreed with her ex-husband’s decision to allow her to change her name and birth certificate “to deny that the baby that I birthed was not really the female that came out of my female body.”
“Last summer, I self selflessly gave up physical custody of her in exchange for a court prohibition of any medical transition. She’s almost 18 and now identifies as nonbinary, and she's showing signs of being comfortable in her female body,” she said. “It’s proof that these gender identities change over time and should never be acted on medically in children.”
“The girls who were on testosterone had aching vocal cords, chronic joint pain, leaking wounds where their breasts used to be, atrophying body parts, painful sex, and chronic pain that no doctor knows how to fix,” said Bourne.
She warned that AB 957 would require the court system to give preference to parents who would subject their children to “experimental medical treatments ... that are not proven to relieve gender dysphoria or prevent suicide” and lead to permanent physical harm and permanent sterility, she said.
“This bill will force parents to do what they know is not right or healthy for their child if they want to retain custody,” she said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved puberty blockers decades ago for the purpose of treating children with precocious puberty, and sex hormones were approved to treat hormone disorders or as birth control pills. However, the agency has not specifically approved these drugs to treat gender-confused youth.