California court says it's OK to intentionally misgender and deadname trans people

·2 min read
trans rights are human rights
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  • A California court struck down a law that protects trans elders from getting misgendered in nursing homes.

  • The court argued making employees use the correct pronouns and names of patients would be a violation of freedom of speech.

  • Advocates say the law will expose trans elders to discrimination and actively strips away their humanity.

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A California court struck down a 2017 anti-discrimination law protecting LGBTQ elders, making it legal for employees to intentionally misgender and deadname patients at long-term care facilities.

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled that forcing employees to refer to patients by their preferred pronouns and names would be a violation of their freedom of speech and ideology.

"We recognize that misgendering may be disrespectful, discourteous and insulting, and used as an inartful way to express an ideological disagreement with another person's expressed gender identity," Associate Justice Elena J. Duarte wrote for the court.

"But the First Amendment does not protect only speech that inoffensively and artfully articulates a person's point of view."

The clause could be removed from the California LGBTQ Long-term Care Facility Residents' Bill of Rights, which was put together by lawmakers and passed into law in 2017 to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ seniors.

Advocates say eliminating the clause will expose trans elders to direct harm and dehumanization.

Studies have found misgendering and deadnaming trans people, or referring to someone with the gender pronouns and name they were assigned at birth, can be damaging to their mental health and increase rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations.

California State Sen. Scott Wiener said the law is disconnected from the realities of being trans, and mistakenly equates misgendering to offending someone.

"Deliberately misgendering a transgender person isn't just a matter of opinion, and it's not simply 'disrespectful, discourteous, or insulting,'" Wiener said in a statement. "Rather, it's straight up harassment. And, it erases an individual's fundamental humanity, particularly one as vulnerable as a trans senior in a nursing home."

State attorney general Rob Bonta will review the decision and make the final call on whether or not the misgendering clause will be removed from the bill of rights.

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