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Speech police? Californians could go to prison for not using transgender pronouns

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

The California State Senate passed a bill stating that anyone who uses the wrong pronoun to address a transgender person could land in jail.

The bill, titled the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Residents Bill of Rights,” passed the State Senate in May by a vote of 26-12 and is on its way to the General Assembly. Right now, the bill is limited to nursing homes and intermediate care facilities. However, this would provide the California legislature precedent to expand the policing of speech to the greater public.

It’s set to be debated in the California General Assembly this week where it’s having its first hearing on Wednesday. The bill was unanimously approved by the Assembly Judiciary committee.

According to the California Health and Safety Code, anyone who refuses to “willfully and repeatedly […] use a transgender resident’s preferred name or pronouns” could face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” California Family Council’s Greg Burt said in a July testimony. “This is not tolerance. This is not love. This is not mutual respect. True tolerance tolerates people with different views. We need to treat each other with respect, but respect is a two-way street. It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own.”

Not only will the bill mandate that individuals use the correct gender pronoun in these health facilities under threat of a fine and prison time, but also people can use the bathroom of their choice regardless of their biological sex.


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