Dissecting Washington Senate Bill 5599: What You Need To Know About The Assault on Parental Rights
There have been many articles and videos floating around on the internet since bill 5599 passed in Washington state this past spring. Those leaning to the farthest side of the left paint the bill as a way to save transgender children from homelessness after being kicked out into the streets by their parents. Those to the most extreme side of the far-right paint it as the FBI kicking down doors and kidnapping children. Rather than quoting articles written about the bill or sharing my own personal opinions, we’re going to be looking into the bill itself as well as the official website for the Department of Children, Youth and Families. The Department of Children, Youth and Families is responsible for runaway youth and those in foster care. They oversee all issues relating to custody of the children as stated in the bill.
This bill was passed in the state of Washington in April of 2023 and is currently in effect. Section one expresses that there is an abundance of homeless transgender youth and quotes statistics found by the Trevor Project, which is an activist group known for its work in making puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and sex change surgeries accessible to children. Their statistics are taken from qualitative surveys that are usually biased, inconclusive, and lack concrete statistical significance. Organization leaders from Gays Against Groomers have spoken to The Trevor Project multiple times over the past year to discuss our concerns with how they view child safeguarding (or lack thereof). They know exactly who we are. Rumor has it they don't like us very much. The feeling is mutual.
Section one ends by stating that barriers are to be removed so that minors who are seeking protected health care services, including “gender affirming care”, are allowed access to youth shelters or temporary licensed accommodations.
At first glance, it seems that this bill is intended to help transgender kids who have been thrown out into streets and are unwanted by their parents, but it also allows children in stable home environments to run away from their parents to seek out “gender affirming care." This bill allows children to seek accommodation at any licensed organization with a stated mission to provide services to homeless or runaway youth and their families as well as host homes and shelters. It’s important to note the definition of “shelter” listed in this bill. The bill states, “'Shelter' means the person's home or any structure over which the person has any control” as the definition. The bill fails to list off a decent set standards or safeguards to ensure that the runaway children end up in a safe environment. This leaves children extremely vulnerable to ill-intentioned adults such as pedophiles or sex traffickers. The procedures listed for contacting the parents of the runaway youth are extremely vague, as well. It states that the accommodating shelter may withhold all information on the minor from the parents if there is compelling reason to withhold. This means that rather than contacting the parents, the department is contacted instead, even if the parents report the child as a missing person.
There are two scenarios listed as “compelling reasons” that allow the licensed accommodation to withhold information on minors from the parents. The first one listed is when a minor is being subjected to abuse or neglect at home. That one should absolutely be supported but was already allowed before this bill existed. The next line states that the shelter can withhold information on the minor if they are seeking protected health care services. They specifically define protected health care services as “gender affirming treatment” in this bill. Gender affirming treatment is what they use to describe things like puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and sex change surgeries. The fact that they placed seeking gender affirming treatment right next to abuse and neglect in the bill says a lot. If "gender-affirming care" is classified as lifesaving and necessary under the law, then one could make the case that parents who don't go along with it are unsafe and unfit to care for their own child.
The Department of Youth, Children and Families is the department mentioned all throughout this bill. This is the department that will eventually assign a case worker to your child after they have run away. The typical process listed on their website for deciding whether or not you can reclaim custody of your child after a CPS referral has been made estimates an 18 month process in and out of court rooms. It can take longer in some cases, especially considering the fact that they are understaffed and overflowing with children as is. There is no protocol listed specifically for parents who’s child fled because they refused to provide the child with cross sex hormones or to undergo sex change procedures.
According to the bill, the department is supposed to help resolve conflict between the family if possible, but it doesn’t describe or define what that means at all. If you look through the resources they provide for youth in foster care on their website, The Trevor Project, PFLAG, Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality are what they have listed. Regarding minors in the foster care system, they state “Apple Health Core Connections (AHCC) is your health care plan. AHCC is able to assist you in accessing LGBTQIA+ services including counseling and medical treatment that meet your needs.” (LGBTQIA+ Youth in Washington State Foster Care) This means that your child will have the insurance coverage and everything else needed to start medically transitioning while you spend what could take well over a year fighting to reclaim custody of your own son or daughter. Whether or not you get your child back at all is heavily dependent on your child’s case worker and the department. The department is explicitly and unapologetically in support of youth having access to what they call “gender affirming care”. They advertise the fact that LGBTQ+ medical care is covered by the insurance that they provide to the children in their care and express an obvious bias towards medically transitioning the sex of children in their care.
The leader of GAG's Washington chapter testified against this bill, but it unfortunately wound up passing. If a parent disagrees with their child taking hormones or getting surgeries that permanently alter their bodies, the government may now be put in charge for deciding whether or not these parents are safe enough to know the whereabouts of their children. It strips away parents' rights and hands them over to the state. Not only are children allowed to run away, but they are also provided with insurance, shelter, and the bodily autonomy to transition with little safeguarding. Children are too young to consent to these procedures. Any policy that grants minors such bodily autonomy over their reproductive anatomy should not be embraced if we truly care about the health, safety, and well-being of children. We expect to see more of these dangerous policies being proposed in states that have not banned child transition (yet). And we are going to fight them with everything we have in order to put a stop to this madness once and for all.
For more information or to read the bill yourself, visit the following link: https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2023-24/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/5599-S.SL.pdf?q=20230801210809.