California court says it's OK to intentionally misgender and deadname trans people
Michael Nigro / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images
A California court overturned a law protecting trans elders from being misdirected in nursing homes.
The court argued that it would be a violation of freedom of expression for staff to use the correct pronouns and names of patients.
Proponents say the law will discriminate against and actively deprive trans elders of their humanity.
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A California court overturned a 2017 anti-discrimination law designed to protect LGBTQ elders, making it legal for employees to deliberately alienate and name patients in long-term care facilities.
The third district appeals court ruled that forcing staff to use their preferred pronouns and names to refer to patients would be a violation of their freedom of expression and ideology.
"We recognize that a wrong gender can be disrespectful, rude and offensive, and is used as an inept way to express an ideological disagreement with another person's expressed gender identity," wrote Assistant Judge Elena J. Duarte for the court .
"But the First Amendment doesn't just protect idioms that articulate a person's point of view in innocuous and artful ways."
The clause could be removed from the California LGBTQ Long Term Care Facility's Bill of Rights, which was put together by lawmakers and enacted in 2017 to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ + senior citizens.
Proponents say removing the clause would expose trans elders to direct harm and dehumanization.
Studies have shown that naming trans people incorrectly or dead, or referring to someone using the gender pronouns and names assigned to them at birth, can harm their mental health and increase the rate of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
California Senator Scott Wiener said the law is divorced from the reality of being transgender and wrongly equates gender defects with insulting a person.
"Intentionally misinterpreting a transgender person is not just a matter of opinion, and it is not simply 'disrespectful, rude or offensive,'" Wiener said in a statement. "More like a direct harassment. And it erases the basic humanity of an individual, especially one as vulnerable as a trans senior in a nursing home."
Attorney General Rob Bonta will review the decision and make the final decision on whether or not to remove the gender identity clause from the fundamental rights treaty.
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