As states push anti-trans bills, California considers one of its own

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington in 2019.
Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington in 2019.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, April 7. I’m Kenya Romero, the audience engagement fellow writing from East Los Angeles.

Bills that would restrict the rights of transgender people have moved through state houses across the country. These are part of the more than 450 bills restricting rights for members of the LGBTQ community just this legislative session, according to the ACLU.

Last month, Georgia and Tennessee joined 11 other states in putting laws on the books that prevent gender-affirming procedures or hormone replacement therapies for those under 18 (even if parents or guardians have consented). Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Mississippi and South Dakota are close behind, with similar bills advancing through their legislatures.

Bills targeting other LGBTQ communities and gender identities have gotten national attention too. Tennessee recently banned drag performances in public spaces. North Dakota’s legislature sent a bill to the governor that would prevent schoolchildren from using pronouns that differ from those they were assigned at birth without their parents’ consent.


Though California leaders have positioned the state as a progressive safe haven for trans people, the reality is more complicated.

Two Republican state assembly members in Sacramento have proposed a bill that would require school employees to notify parents if their child is transgender, or identifying as a gender that does not align with their sex assigned at birth.

[Read more: California bill would require schools to notify parents if their child is transgender]

Of course, the bill has little chance of advancing in California’s deep-blue Assembly.

In fact, California already has a law on the books that has forbidden the practice since 2014. Teachers and educators cannot share with parents if a student uses new pronouns in school, or comes out as transgender to classmates.

The justification? Disclosing that a student is transgender could put them in harm’s way, and could violate California’s anti-discrimination law by making them more susceptible to harassment as well as violating the student’s right to privacy, according to the California Department of Education.

Transgender and other non-conforming kids face higher rates of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse than their counterparts, according to a 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine.


In a 2022 national survey by the LGBTQ advocacy group The Trevor Project, only 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth reported feeling safe sharing their identity at home.

But Bill Essayli (R-Riverside), one of the bill’s two cosponsors, argues that parents deserve to know what choices their children are making.

“Parents play a critical role in nurturing and supporting children and they cannot be removed from the equation,” Essayli said at a news conference at Jurupa Valley High School last month.

He added that if critics worried about the abuse transgender kids face at home, they can rest assured that teachers are mandatory reporters, and are already on the lookout for abuse.

[More: A transgender 9-year-old tells her story]

That hasn’t convinced his critics.

In a statement condemning the bill, the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus said, “conversations between children and their parents about gender identity should happen on their terms — at a time and place they feel is appropriate — not because politicians say so,” and that outing students against their will “puts them in potentially life-threatening danger.”


The Los Angeles Times editorial board joined the chorus, calling the bill “a mean-spirited bill to score political points from their conservative constituency.”

Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) shared his disapproval of the bill on Twitter.

Referring to Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bill, which requires teachers and counselors to inform parents about their child’s gender identity, Weiner tweeted, “A DeSantis-style bill was just introduced in CA to require teachers/counselors to inform parents if a kid id’s as a gender not on birth certificate. Even if the kid isn’t ready to come out to their parents. Even if ratting the kid out risks violence at home.”

“Nope,” he wrote. “Not in CA.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Bridget Bousa hangs out with her sisters' dog, Bunny, inside her recently built ADU.
Bridget Bousa hangs out with her sisters’ dog, Bunny, inside her recently built ADU in the Fairfax District.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

She wanted more than a guesthouse for her sister. This tiny ADU in L.A. delivers. Two sisters, one boyfriend, a roommate and a beloved rescue dog share a compound in L.A., thanks to a 500-square-foot ADU. Los Angeles Times


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Who’s sending mystery Uber Eats orders to L.A. neighborhoods? The plot thickens. A spate of unwanted food deliveries in Westwood Hills and Highland Park has vexed residents. With few answers to questions about the source of the orders, one intriguing theory has emerged. Los Angeles Times

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What to make of Newsom’s romp through the South. Gov. Gavin Newsom has spent the last several days far from California, doing things California governors rarely do. Earlier this week, he was in Sarasota, Fla., meeting with students from the New College of Florida, which has become a symbol of the national culture wars as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis tries to overhaul the progressive campus by putting conservative trustees in charge. Los Angeles Times

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Man pleads guilty in rapper Pop Smoke’s death. A 20-year-old charged in the killing of Pop Smoke pleaded guilty in juvenile court, admitting he entered a Hollywood Hills mansion as a teenager in February 2020 intending to rob the rapper, who was shot to death in a struggle with his assailants. Los Angeles Times

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See the rebirth of California’s ‘phantom’ Tulare Lake in striking before-and-after images. Tulare Lake, once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, was last full in 1878. Recent storms have flooded thousands of acres of farmland in the area. Los Angeles Times

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How to score a reservation for Coachella’s most exclusive Michelin pop-up. There’s no going hungry at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. Check out the coolest food and drink experiences you’ll find at this years festival, including secret bars, exclusive dinners, pop-ups and more. Los Angeles Times

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Today’s California landmark is from Donald Carper of Fair Oaks: North and South Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.

A vista at the North and South Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.
(Donald Carper)

Donald writes:

With the wet winter we’ve had, the blooms and water flows will be spectacular this spring. An unexpected place to find both is above Oroville in the North and South Table Mountain Ecological Reserve. They are two basaltic mesas overlooking the city of Oroville on the south and views of the mountain ranges of the Pacific to the west and even Lassen and Shasta to the north on a clear day.

What are California’s essential landmarks? Fill out this form to send us your photos of a special spot in California — natural or human-made. Tell us why it’s interesting and what makes it a symbol of life in the Golden State. Please be sure to include only photos taken directly by you. Your submission could be featured in a future edition of the newsletter.


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