News and Commentary

California Law Allows Jail For Using Wrong Gender Pronoun

Under a new California law, those who work in health care who use the wrong gender pronoun when referring to a transgender patient could face prison time.

The new law, signed last week by California Gov. Jerry Brown, will punish any health care worker who “willfully and repeatedly” does not use the “preferred name or pronouns” of transgender patients, Fox News reports.

Behind the bill is Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener who argues that no one will face criminal prosecution for using the wrong gender pronoun — even though the bill leaves the possibility open.

“It’s just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections,” Wiener insisted.

The bill states:

It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status.

The law states that violations can be punishable by a fine “not to exceed one thousand dollars” or “by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year,” or both, Fox News notes.

Wiener was also behind California’s push to lessen the punishment for knowingly exposing other people to HIV including through the donation to blood banks, and legislation that takes sex offenders off the sex offender registry.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a Friday statement.

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