Parents rally in Sacramento against California bills they say push ‘transgender’ agenda

A group of advocates gathered Tuesday near the California state Capitol in downtown Sacramento to rally against three proposed state laws that they say push a “transgender ideology” and limit the rights of parents.

These advocates claim Assembly bills 665, 957 and 223, if passed into law, would adversely affect the rights of parents and guardians who believe “children’s natural bodies are perfect.” They also argue that these proposed bills will make non-affirming your child’s gender identity “child abuse” in California. Opponents of the proposed legislation have circulated these claims on social media sites.

Proponents of the bills say these laws would ensure mental health services for youths; include a child’s gender identity as part of the health, safety and welfare of the child in custody cases; and limit access to paperwork to change gender or sex identifiers for anyone younger than 18.

The California Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a hearing Tuesday afternoon for AB 957 and AB 223. The committee has scheduled a hearing on June 20 for AB 665.

Erin Friday is a lawyer and a member of a group called Our Duty. She said she is the mother of a child who used to think she was transgender.

“You as a parent can be deemed abusive if you refuse to medicalize your child,” Friday said at a news conference. “If you refuse to poison your child with cross-sex hormones. If you refuse to stop the natural body growth called puberty. If you refuse to remove your child’s healthy breasts or genitals.”

Mental health services for youths

AB 665 would change an existing law that allows minors 12 and older to receive mental health counseling or therapy without parental consent. This bill would align the existing laws by removing the additional requirement that the minor must present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to themselves or to others, or be the alleged victim of incest or child abuse.

It contains no language that would allow school mental health professionals to remove children from the custody of their parents or guardians, according to an assessment by the Associated Press. AB 665 does not authorize any gender-affirming surgeries without parental consent.

“This bill makes no changes to the processes of the child welfare system in California and no changes to the processes of removal,” Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, sponsor of AB 665, told AP.

Adam Vena said he lost all custody of his 5-year-old son, whom he has not seen in more than two years, because the child’s mother has been socially transitioning their child. He said he has paid for his son’s medical insurance and, until recently, paid for his tuition. But he refuses to affirm his child’s gender as a girl.

Vena said he did not support this and communicated his concerns to the mother — he said in light of his views, the court considered him “abusive” and issued a restraining order against him.

“This is crazy. The parent who wants to change the child’s perfect body is abusive,” Vena said at the Capitol. “My personal beliefs and my First Amendment rights were squashed, because I didn’t want my 3-year-old son to wear a dress.”

Child custody cases

Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, who introduced AB 957, told the San Francisco Chronicle that California has a duty to “draw a line in the sand” against anti-trans efforts that have gained traction in other states. AB 957, which would apply in child custody cases, would include a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity as part of the health, safety, and welfare of the child.

Abigail Martinez said she lost custody of her teen daughter, who was placed in foster care. She said she wanted her daughter to get the mental health treatment she needed instead of “poisoning her body with testosterone.”

“I cry for the parents who will be like me, helpless to help their children,” Martinez said at the news conference. “I lost custody of my daughter when she was just 16, because I refused to call her a male name. That was my crime, a name and not pronouns.”

Martinez said a school counselor convinced the court that her child would be harmed because she did not believe her daughter was a boy. She said her child’s transition made their mental state of health worse, and her child took her life at the age of 19 in Pomona.

Transgender youth privacy law

Jennifer Kennedy, a mother, a lawyer and a member of Our Duty, said these bills are just like “train cars stacked” and working together against children, parents’ relationship with their children and the rights of parents.

She argued AB 223 is not necessary, because court documents are not easily accessible. Kennedy said this proposed law is intended to protect other adults — such as appointed guardians — from going into court to change the gender markings of children without the child’s parents knowing.

“They’re trying to create a problem in order to hook up this next train car in the train of all these anti-parent and anti-family bills,” Kennedy said about AB 223. “You have to have a good reason to shut off public access to public records. There’s no good reason here.”

AB 223 would seal petitions and related paperwork to change gender or sex identifiers for anyone younger than 18. Assemblyman Chris Ward, D-San Diego, who authored AB 223, has said the proposed privacy law gives transgender youth “the confidence to navigate their gender identity without fear of retaliation” from someone who discovers that information in the public record. This bill would require the court to limit access to these records to specified individuals, including the minor, the minor’s parents, and their attorneys.”

Arienne Adamcikova, 54, of San Francisco, attended Tuesday’s gathering in support of the parents groups. She said she is a liberal, progressive parent of a detransitioned son and an ally of the “LGB community.”

The mother said she had told her son he was allowed “to be anybody he wants to be’‘ and was free to dress however he liked and love whomever he chooses, but he wasn’t allowed to change his body.

“His job as an adolescent is to explore but not to make any permanent changes,” Adamcikov said after the news conference. “That will affect him lifelong.”

The Bee’s Hannah Shields contributed to this story.