Newsom Vetoes Controversial Bill On Transgender Child Custody

In a move that defies his party, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have allowed judges to consider a parent’s role in their child’s gender transition during custody battles between divorcing parents.

The vetoed bill, AB 957, co-authored by Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-CA) and Sen. Scott Wiener (D-CA), had stirred up a storm of controversy ever since it was proposed. Critics argued that this bill could infringe on parental rights and potentially harm children involved in custody disputes.

As early as June, a Republican lawmaker had urged families to consider leaving the state if the bill became law, as many conservatives were worried about the potential consequences of such legislation.

In Newsom’s message explaining the veto, he emphasized that California courts already had the authority to consider a parent’s support for their child’s gender transition. He also expressed concerns about how this could impact “the civil rights of vulnerable communities” and set a precedent for government intervention in legal standards.

Newsom stated, “I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply. Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”

“Moreover, a court, under existing law, is required to consider a child’s health, safety, and welfare when determining the best interests of a child in these proceedings, including the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity,” he went on to explain.

Newsom’s decision to veto the bill is seen as an unusual move, as his administration has been actively targeting school districts that adopt parental notification policies regarding gender transitions. The governor dismissed concerns raised by parents, suggesting they had been misled by misinformation and accused Republicans of trying to “bully” children.

“These trans kids just want to live,” Newsom asserted during a live forum on Sept. 12. He expressed his belief, without concrete evidence, that the most likely outcome for these children who are not allowed to abandon their biological genders is “suicide.”

While he criticized Republican governors for what he called a “zest for demonization,” Newsom did not acknowledge the genuine concerns among parents about the possibility of their children being encouraged to take medical steps that might have long-term effects on them physically and psychologically.