A new bill that could soon become law in California is drawing criticism from parents and conservative groups who say it will erode parental rights and is easily manipulated.
AB 957 would require judges to consider whether a parent “affirms” a child’s gender identity or expression when determining child custody or visitation rights. It passed the State Assembly on Friday and the State Senate on Thursday and is now awaiting the signature of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
The bill defines “affirmation” as a range of actions that could include providing gender-targeted toys or nail polish, or its expression through hair length. Supporters of the bill, such as Democrat Assemblymember Lori Wilson, posit that the measure is intended to promote the overall well-being of children.
Conservative groups, however, are wary of the implications of the bill, arguing that it will essentially equate “affirmation” of gender transitioning with child wellbeing, giving parents who ‘affirm’ the trans child’s identity an upper hand in custody battles. They are concerned that parents who do not agree with a child’s transitioning could lose custody of them.
Attorneys have also noted that the measure could be easily manipulated so that one parent would prevail merely by being willing to do more transitioning. “What happens when one parent will socially affirm the child but will not agree to medicalize? Does the parent willing to do more transitioning prevail?” lawyer Erin Friday asked in June.
Billionaire Elon Musk has also voiced his concerns about the bill, arguing that it could be used to take children away from their parents if they do not agree with the other parent’s gender transition ideas.
“This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What it actually means is that if you disagree with the other parent about sterilizing your child, you lose custody. Utter madness!” Musk posted to Twitter earlier this week.
The bill is now headed to the desk of Governor Newsom, who is yet to decide its fate. If signed, it will become law in California and require judges to consider “affirmation” of a child’s gender identity among other factors when ruling on custody issues.