The State of California Third District Court of Appeals ruled that a state law requiring the use of preferred pronouns by nursing home workers violated their free speech rights.
The court struck down the pro-transgender regulation on Friday in a unanimous 3-0 decision.
The provision was a part of the LGBTQ Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights passed in 2017 and signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown. The bill’s author, state senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), released a statement lambasting the decision.
“The Court’s decision is disconnected from the reality facing transgender people,” said senator Weiner.
“Deliberately misgendering a transgender person isn’t just a matter of opinion, and it’s not simply ‘disrespectful, discourteous, or insulting.’ Rather, it’s straight up harassment,” he continued.
“And, it erases an individual’s fundamental humanity, particularly one as vulnerable as a trans senior in a nursing home,” Weiner concluded. “This misguided decision cannot be allowed to stand.”
The law could have punished a health care provider with a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine for “prolonged” abuse involving the violation of the provisions including the misuse of preferred pronouns. Sponsors of the bill defended the bill by saying such a punishment would be rarely enforced in only the most extreme cases.
Equality California, who sponsored the legislation, also released a statement through a spokesperson decrying the unanimous ruling by the court.
“Let’s be clear: refusing to use someone’s correct name and pronouns isn’t an issue of free speech — it’s a hateful act that denies someone their dignity and truth,” said Rick Chavez Zbur, an executive director of Equality California.
“California’s nursing home patients deserve better than this — and we’ll be fighting until this decision is overturned,” he added.
Here’s a debate about the California transgender law from 2017:
Bill proposes punishment for not using preferred pronouns