Transgender Law Center is thrilled to report that Governor Brown has just signed into law four bills, in addition to the Respect After Death Act (AB 1577), that will make a difference in the lives of trans and gender-nonconforming people in California! They include:
AB 2501, which outlaws the use of the so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in homicide cases. Historically, defense lawyers in murder cases have attempted (sometimes successfully) to reduce homicide charges from murder to manslaughter by appealing to “gay panic” or “trans panic”. This defense centers around the idea that the defendant was “panicked” into killing another person upon realizing their sexual orientation, gender identity, or trans status, and has resulted in the murders of numerous LGBTQ people being swept under the rug. This law will send a strong message that gender identity and/or sexual orientation are NEVER excuses for murder.
AB 496, which requires that healthcare workers be trained in LGBTQ cultural competency. Many LGBTQ people are reluctant to come out to their doctors because of widespread misunderstanding and lack of training in health issues of concern to the LGBTQ community. Transgender people in particular report meeting with widespread misinformation from their healthcare providers; a recent joint report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force reported that 50% of trans people surveyed had had to teach their medical providers about transgender care. This law will ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are incorporated into existing cultural competency training.
AB 420, which prohibits school suspensions and expulsions based on the vague charge of “willful defiance”. This bill represents a huge step toward making school discipline processes more transparent and equitable. California public school administrators have, until now, been capable of suspending or expelling students based on nothing more than a charge of “willful defiance”, which refers to no particular infraction and has historically targeted LGBTQ students and, above all, students of color. The GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Network and the ACLU have been instrumental in advancing this important law.
AB 2344, the Modern Family Act, which advances the rights of families including LGBTQ and/or non-biological parents in several ways. It 1) establishes a statutory form that will help clarify and protect the rights of sperm donors and parents who work with them, 2) provides clear specifications relating to financial responsibility for the medical costs incurred by surrogate parents and their newborns, and 3) streamlines the adoption process for parents that meet certain criteria, including waiving some fees and making the process easier for families that include same-sex couples and transgender parents.