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Gavin Newsom is changing his tune on trans issues

Gavin Newsom knows which way the wind is blowing. Credit: Getty

September 25, 2023 - 1:00pm

Late on Friday evening, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have required affirmation of a child’s gender self-identification to be considered in custody and visitation disputes. In his veto message, Newsom praised the “passion and values that led the author to introduce this bill” and expressed his “deep” — and, somehow, “many decades-long” — “commitment to advancing the rights of transgender Californians”. 

Newsom packaged his veto in the warning that “[o]ther-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities”— suggesting that other states may retaliate by favouring non-affirming parents in custody disputes. 

There was a shorter way for Newsom to say all of this. What he meant was: I’m running for president. During his four years in office, the Governor’s signature has entrenched gender ideology in California’s schools, healthcare settings, and prisons in state law. There’s little reason to think he has had a sudden awakening to the potential harms of an agenda he has long supported. But what Newsom lacks in principles or scruples, he makes up for in political sensitivity: the political winds are shifting and thus he must shift, too — 0r at least appear to. 

Predictably, California Democrats and advocacy organisations reacted with outrage. State Senator Scott Wiener — who has made a career from pushing controversial legislation putting male prisoners in women’s prisons, lowering the penalty for knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV, and making California a “sanctuary state” for trans-identified minors — decried the veto as a “tragedy for trans kids here & around the country.” 

“These kids are living in fear, with right wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports & restrooms & erase their humanity,” Wiener wrote. 

There’s a lot going on here — as there is every time “pro-trans” politicians and advocacy organisations try to spin political setbacks. By “out[ing]” children, Wiener means notifying parents before schools embark on social transition, a serious psychosocial intervention that teachers and guidance counsellors are unqualified to enact. By “deny them health care,” he means refrain from the kinds of experimental hormonal and surgical interventions that European countries as conservative and hidebound as Finland and Sweden have stepped back from. By “ban them from sports”, the senator means requiring kids to compete with members of their own sex. “Eras[ing] their humanity” is a favoured flourish, a nebulous accusation designed to monster political opponents without getting specific enough to be refuted. 

As far as the climate of fear goes, Wiener and his fellow activists are largely to blame. By misrepresenting their political opponents’ policies and intentions and engaging in rampant catastrophising, Wiener and co. instil irrational fears in members of a vulnerable community, then ride the votes, donations, and clicks that manufactured fear and outrage generate. 

There’s reason to hope trans activists are losing control of the conversation. Newsom’s veto is yet another sign that the political, legal, and social calculus on trans issues is shifting. Last week, thousands of Canadians rallied against gender indoctrination in schools. Under pressure from state legislatures, gender clinics are starting to pull back from hormonal and surgical interventions on youth — sometimes pulling back even further than the law requires. 

What was until recently a medical imperative is becoming a legal liability. What was until recently a political imperative among Democrats is starting to turn into a political liability. 


Eliza Mondegreen is a graduate student in psychiatry and the author of Writing Behavior on Substack.

elizamondegreen

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

Ugh. Newsom is beyond contempt. No single politician in the US has done more to push this radical agenda, and now he’s suddenly changed his mind overnight? He’s an empty sock puppet with no values and beliefs outside winning power. He’s a gross, creepy opportunist.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I disagree and I hope he runs for president and wins.

Last edited 9 months ago by Clare Knight
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Totally respect your opinions CK, but are you being serious or pulling my leg? What could you possibly like?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

weird

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

As far as contemptuous, gross, creepy, opportunistic, empty sock puppets go, I much prefer one who comes to the right decision on an issue of this importance (albeit for questionable reasons) over one who doesn’t.

Last edited 9 months ago by Huw Parker
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
9 months ago

“Newsom packaged his veto in the warning that … other states may retaliate by favouring non-affirming parents in custody disputes.”
As they should.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
9 months ago

Wiener doth protest too much. Likely, he welcomes the veto if it advances Newsom’s nomination. What’s next? Possibly a state law legalizing defecating on sidewalks so Newson can veto that too.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
9 months ago

I think it’s time for Californians of all genders to get their Wiener out.

Waffles
Waffles
9 months ago

*both genders

George Scipio
George Scipio
9 months ago

Just possibly, ordinary people are starting to see through the incessant propaganda and realise that gender dysphoria is really a disorder rather than the joyful expression of an authentic self. No other “coming out” leads to a lifetime of medication, surgery, sterility, stunted growth, weak bones, risk of heart and stroke problems, and loss of sexual pleasure and function. Transgenderism is the ultimate deceitful reactionary sales pitch of American hypercapitalism determined to monetise human distress.

Last edited 9 months ago by George Scipio
Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago
Reply to  George Scipio

It’s the sweet spot where the medical-industrial complex meets radical religious cultism.

Andrew F
Andrew F
9 months ago
Reply to  George Scipio

What is worrying, is why so many people are pretending to support this nonsense?

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
9 months ago

Perhaps the gay and lesbian community – nominally quite powerful a lobby in California – have been warning Newsome of the backlash they might well face over the horizon of this ceaseless Democrat push for gender authoritarianism?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

The obvious explanation is political opportunism. He knows it’s a losing issue outside California.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
9 months ago

Newsom’s problem is indicative of the Democrats’ problem in general. Most of their leaders and prominent politicians are increasingly drawn from a few ultra-liberal locations, like California, whose politics are very unpopular outside those strongholds. The rest of the country knows this, and is suspicious of politicians from places like California, New York, Chicago, or the pacific northwest. The Democrats, if they have any sense at all, should nominate somebody from one of the purple states like Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, or Pennsylvania, rather than try to convince the rest of the country that a California Democrat is actually a centrist. Nobody is gonna believe that. Moreover, nominating Newsom would be inviting the right wing press to put a big shiny spotlight on all the loony policies that are politically toxic everywhere else.

Android Tross
Android Tross
9 months ago

Truly one of our top tier narcissists. I’d love to live inside his head for a day and passively listen to the self-satisfied paeans he must surely be singing to himself all day long.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Android Tross

I’m not sure I’d credit him with being a narcissist. He’s probably just interested in power.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

As most politicians are. It’s addictive.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago
Reply to  Android Tross

Truly hilarious seeing the Trumpbots referring to anyone as a narcissist!
You guys really don’t get irony, do you?!?!? Comical!!!!

Liam F
Liam F
9 months ago

nor word salad.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago
Reply to  Liam F

You want to try that again, kiddo?!?!?

Last edited 9 months ago by Champagne Socialist
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
9 months ago

You want to try that again, ‘Poo Fash?!?!?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery!
Thanks Dickie!

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago

You wouldn’t use all those punctuation marks if you had to sweep them up afterwards.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
9 months ago

Truly hilarious seeing ‘Poo Fash referring to anyone as a narcissist!
You guys really don’t get irony, do you?!?!? Comical!!!!

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
9 months ago

Newsom is a perfect example of the elitist democrats who should never be taken seriously, but unfortunately are. They are connected and are so removed from the origins of the party that I am truly surprised that the true working folk support them! They believe in “rules for thee, but not for me”.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
9 months ago

Newsom is a self-serving opportunist. A political chameleon. He wouldn’t recognize principle if it hit him between the eyes with a baseball bat. A very dangerous pretty boy, just like Justin Trudeau.

Joann Robertson
Joann Robertson
9 months ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

Yes! Another Justin

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago

You should be so lucky!
Trump cultists getting all high and mighty about “principle”??!?! That’s fantastic!

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago

Amusingly, he later OK’d a pro-trans measure. Like Kerry, he was against the bill before he was for it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

It’s an intelligent thing to change your mind on an issue as you become informed. It’s dogmatic not to.

Emily Riedel
Emily Riedel
9 months ago

I despair to think that Newson will somehow, shadily make his way in to the 24′ presidential race. Then, dealing with a media that lies and suppresses information constantly, he’ll somehow win. I mean, he’s somehow managed to hold on to power in that bleephole of a state, hasn’t he?

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
9 months ago

No he’s not. He’s getting ready to make a bid to become president of the US..

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

And I hope he wins.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Do you enjoy living in a permanent state of crisis and war?

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
9 months ago

Newsom is a slimey WEF stooge. Wonder what kompromat they have on him?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
9 months ago

Still obsessing over trans folks I see…

Niels Georg Bach Christensen
Niels Georg Bach Christensen
9 months ago

Yes because this subject simply takes up too much political space. Many other subjects are much more important.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago

What’s more important than establishing safeguards to prevent children from being indoctrinated into an ideology that promotes medicalisation and surgery with lifelong ramifications?

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago

What’s more important than protecting children from potentially harmful indoctrination?