Updated: Newsom signs trans remembrance bill

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday June 23, 2022
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Governor Gavin Newsom attended a Pride Month event June 23 with the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus where he announced that he signed a bill that will annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. Photo: Courtesy the Governor's Office
Governor Gavin Newsom attended a Pride Month event June 23 with the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus where he announced that he signed a bill that will annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. Photo: Courtesy the Governor's Office

Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday night announced that he signed Assembly Bill 1741 to honor victims of transphobia.

According to a release from his office, Newsom made the announcement at a gathering with members of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus at the historic Governor's Mansion for the caucus's 20th anniversary Pride celebration and to highlight California's leadership on LGBTQ rights.

First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom also attended, the release stated.

"In California, we fight for and celebrate our LGBTQ community's right to live their lives out loud," Newsom stated. "I'm proud to stand with our LGBTQ Caucus today and lift up their commitment to advancing equality, freedom and acceptance. As we push back on the forces of hate that seek to undo our progress, California will continue to lead the way to a better, fairer future for all."

Added Siebel Newsom: "We're committed to supporting members of the LGBTQ community to live as their most authentic selves and will fight to safeguard the policies that protect those rights. Alongside the Governor and the LGBTQ caucus, I encourage us all to continue to lead with California's values of respect, equality, kindness, and acceptance because that's the California Way and the best way forward."

AB 1741 is one of two bills relating to transgender issues that the governor was sent this week. It adds California to the list of states that annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The bill, introduced by gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell), chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, requires the governor to officially recognize the date each year as a day of special remembrance in the Golden State. The event, started in 1998 by Bay Area Reporter Transmissions columnist Gwen Smith, commemorates those transgender people lost to violence in a given year.

One of the first states in the country to make the day an official yearly observance was Virginia. The Virginia House of Delegates adopted a resolution January 7, 2020 that annually designates November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in the Mid-Atlantic state. Transgender Delegate Danica Roem had authored it.

In 2017, the provincial government of Ontario, Canada, unanimously passed the Trans Day of Remembrance Act, which requires members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario to annually observe a minute-long moment of silence at 10:29 a.m. on November 20 if they are in session, otherwise they are to do so the next Thursday that they meet.

California's Assembly passed AB 1741 on a 58-20 vote in late May. The state Senate passed it Monday, June 20, by a 31-9 vote, and it was presented to Newsom at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, amid the Pride week celebrations held annually on the seven days preceding the last Sunday in June.

As Smith told the B.A.R. in April, "In a time when so many other states are attempting to legislate trans lives and trans history out of existence, it is all the more important to see California lead the way in honoring people lost due to anti-transgender violence and hatred. This is a small but important move that shows the state cares."

Also on June 23, the governor signed AB 421 by gay Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), which makes technical changes to the procedures for changing gender and sex identifiers on official documents, such as a marriage certificate, according to the release.

'Walking while trans' bill

Also being sent to Newsom is legislation to repeal California's "walking while trans" loitering law. Sex worker advocates and LGBTQ leaders have denounced such criminal codes due to police using them to arrest transgender women who engage in prostitution in order to make a living.

The California Legislature last year had approved the legislation repealing the state's Penal Code section 653.22, which makes it a misdemeanor to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution. But gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored Senate Bill 357, had withheld sending it to Newsom amid concerns that the governor would veto it.

As the B.A.R. first reported online Monday, June 20, Wiener made a motion that day to enroll Senate Bill 357, kick-starting the formal process to submit the bill to Newsom's desk. According to the state's online tracker for bills, it was enrolled and presented to the governor Friday, June 24, at 10:30 a.m.

Newsom will have 12 days to either sign or veto SB 357 once he receives it.

Should Newsom sign the bill then California would join the state of New York in repealing its loitering laws. The Empire State did so in 2021.

Highlighting LGBTQ rights

The Pride Month gathering highlighted Newsom's actions on LGBTQ rights, the release stated.

California was the first state in the country to officially form a caucus of openly LGBTQ state legislators and continues to lead in advancing policies that create safer, more inclusive communities, the release stated. Newsom has signed a number of measures to advance these efforts, including AB 493 to develop a training program for educators to better support LGBTQ youth; SB 932, which ensures comprehensive data collection to understand how COVID-19 is impacting the LGBTQ community; AB 2218 to establish the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund to provide grants for programs focused on trans-inclusive health care; AB 1094 to collect data on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identify in cases of violent death to help inform prevention efforts; and SB 1255 to end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against individuals because of their HIV status.

In 2020, the governor appointed Justice Martin Jenkins to serve as the first openly gay man on the California Supreme Court, and this year appointed Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Andi Mudryk to the bench. Mudryk is the first transgender person appointed to the bench by Newsom. The governor's release stated that Mudryk is "the first openly transgender person to serve on the state's judicial bench," but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Victoria Kolakowski, a transgender woman, was elected to the Alameda County Superior Court bench in 2010, as the B.A.R. has previously reported. (Kolakowski is married to B.A.R. news editor Cynthia Laird.)

The governor's release also stated that shortly after taking office in 2019, he launched a new initiative to pardon people who were prosecuted in California for being gay.

Updated 6/24/22: This article has been updated to indicate that Governor Newsom signed the Transgender Day of Remembrance bill and was formally sent the loitering repeal bill.

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