Could you face jail-time for using the wrong gender pronoun? Only in California.
On October 4, 2017, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown of California signed legislation that would punish California healthcare workers who “willfully and repeatedly” refuse to use a senior transgender’s “preferred name or pronouns.”
SB 219, proposed by State Senator Scott Weiner, a Democratic from San Francisco, is aimed to protect transgender and other LGBTQ groups in the healthcare industry, most specifically in hospitals, retirement homes, and housing institutions. The bill would ensure that the facilities fully accommodate transgender people and their needs, including allowing them to decide which gender-specific bathroom they prefer to use. SB 219 emerged as backlash to the Trump administration, which reversed the Obama administration directive on transgender bathrooms in public schools, therefore allowing local communities and states to set their own policies again.
Weiner has argued again and again that nobody is going to be criminally prosecuted for not using the correct pronoun. Rather, last month, he stated “It’s just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections.” The bill claims “It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status.”
According to the new law, if provisions are violated, the offending party could be punished by a fine that wouldn’t exceed one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a time frame that wouldn’t exceed one year, or both.
According to Weiner’s office, the law “does not create any new criminal provisions,” but instead creates “new rights within an existing structure.” How does imprisoning and fining people who accidentally mistake someone for their gender and pronouns create rights for transgender people? This law creates an even more divisive and confusing society for us all. Further, there’s almost no way to enforce this law. If a transgender person is called the wrong pronoun, is that person going to run up and complain to a police officer? This law clearly violates the First Amendment by creating a PC-police culture (literally), and it will undoubtedly be challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. As a resident of California, and as someone who has grown to love and appreciate his home state a great deal, it is especially dismaying and frustrating to see how much of a snowflake safe-haven California is becoming.
Greg Burt of the California Family Council, was one opponent of the law. In a testimony made to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in August, Burt asked “How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” In the 1960s, California was the state fighting heavily for free speech in the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Today, it is puzzling to figure out when on earth the far-left in California lost their minds. New legislation like this makes me embarrassed to even call myself a Californian. While it’s great for local counties and states to have their own bills and legislations, SB 219 is a horrible look for our great country, and if more states were to follow, we’re going to be in big trouble.
Watch Burt’s full testimony: