People in California can now be sent to prison for using the wrong gender pronoun, after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday that criminalizes people who refer to someone as “he” when they would prefer to be referred to as “she.”
The new law will be initially applicable to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and mandates that those who “willfully and repeatedly” refuse “to use a transgender resident’s preferred name or pronouns” will be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished with a “$1,000 fine and up to twelve months in county prison“, according to the new California Heath and Safety code.
Known as the “LGBT Senior Bill Of Rights,” the legislation also requires nursing homes and care facilities to make their bathrooms gender neutral and allow all residents to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of biological sex.
The bill’s author, Democratic State Sen. Scott Weiner, claims that traditional values and religious views are not “civil” and don’t hold weight in public areas.
“Everyone is entitled to their religious view,” Wiener said. “But when you enter the public space, when you are running an institution, you are in a workplace, you are in a civil setting, and you have to follow the law.”
Wiener also released a statement thanking Gov. Jerry Brown for signing the controversial bill.
“Our LGBT seniors built the modern LGBT community and led the fight for so many of the rights our community takes for granted today. It is our duty to make sure they can age with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Wiener wrote. “I want to thank Governor Brown for joining our coalition in supporting this bill, which will make a real difference in people’s lives. The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights is an important step in our fight to ensure all people are treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”