In California, healthcare workers interacting with senior transgender patients must now use those patients’ “preferred name or pronouns” or face fines or jail time. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law last week.
The law also states that workers can be punished only if they “willfully and repeatedly” use the “wrong” pronoun.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-CA), assured the public that no one is going to be criminally prosecuted under the updated law. He thinks that the news is just a scare tactics employed by the bill’s opponents.
However, the new provisions allow the possibility of going to prison for misspeaking.
Sen. Wiener, who is openly gay, unveiled that the bill’s goal is to protect transgender and gay patients in assisted living facilities, hospitals, and other similar places. Under the new law, this group of people will also be able to choose the bathroom of their choice.
Among the “unlawful actions” healthcare workers should refrain from is addressing LGBT patients by the wrong pronoun or name especially if caregivers and other healthcare workers were previously “informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”
New Law Infringes Workers’ Free Speech
Violators of the law could face up to $1,000 in fines or spend up to a year behind bars, or both.
Sen. Wiener underlined that the violations of the old law rarely led to imprisonment. Only healthcare workers that exposed transgender people to a risk of death or harm could land in jail, he added.
The Democratic lawmaker insisted that the new law does not add new criminal provision to the existing legislation. Instead, it creates new rights for LGBT seniors.
The California Family Council blasted the new law for violating other people’s free speech.
“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?,”
CFC’s head Greg Burt said.
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