Jessica Ambriz Misty Parker and Rosio Léon Velasco-Stoll

Assembly Bill 994 has local origin

About a year ago I was approached by a few community members informing me that a transgender woman was being unfairly posted on social media that further causes division and villainization of the transgender community by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Dept. I looked onto the social media page of the Fresno Sheriff’s social media page and low and behold a very upsetting photo of a transgender woman. Make up messed up, hair askew and her clothing looked like she was pulled from all angles. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Dept. dead named her and did not use her pronouns as current law already states to do so by local law enforcement agencies. I was dismayed when I looked at the comments following her photos. To say there were lots of negative comments not only about her but about the transgender community. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Dept has done its job to alienate and cause a further violent division of our community to the community in general. There were lots of HATE comments even to those of us who have done nothing wrong. The comment that stood out to me was one of ignorance and hate by the representative of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Dept handling their social media page who stated, and I quote; “Well tell them not to commit crimes and we don’t have to post them.” As if we are their keepers.

The Following month Fresno City Police Dept. followed suit with making a statement to local Fox 26 news media about another transgender woman: calling her a “Naked man”. This time, the person turned out to be a dear friend of mine. This Trans woman was not naked, rather she had on only her bathrobe. Fresno Police Dept has in their Procedures book for handling Transgender people was developed with my assistance and saw the images that showed that the officers did not adhere to those protocols. A trans woman is to be searched or arrested by an officer that coincides with their gender identity. They MUST use preferred names and pronouns when it has been established that the person is Transgender. Again, a Transgender individual was dead named and not given proper pronouns. Their images of being tackled to the ground and cuffed plastered across the media to cause more harm to the Transgender community at large.

I called Fresno City Police Dept. and Chief Baldarama and Mayor Dyer on this and to this date Chief has done nothing to correct the situation or for future interactions with the Trans community (No surprise there) even though CA state law requires ALL local law enforcement institutions to have LGBTQ Training for officers.

Since my voice was falling on deaf ears, I was frustrated and disappointed in the lack of response by local city leaders that I decided to use my post. I sit on the Transgender Advisory Panel to the Lt. Gov. of CA. and I asked for assistance from the panel to help me to not only rectify this for Fresno, but statewide. If Fresno Law Institutions are doing this to us here, how many others are going through the same situation in other towns, counties, or cities? I shared my screenshot evidence with the Lt. Governor and the panel, and they were appalled at what they saw. My request for state intervention was heard by my panel peers and set forth for assistance by an Assemblymember to help with writing and authoring the proposal for a bill. Assemblymember Corey Jackson picked up the request to help with authoring and see this proposal through. It was given the title of AB 994.

I was even asked to come by during a reading to the Public and Community Protections dept. to give a testimonial on why it is important to pass the proposal through. Accompanied by my daughter Jessica Ambriz and my drag daughter Misty Parker, I presented to the council and shared how since the social media had been posted, that the public in Fresno has been less than amiable towards the Transgender community. I testified further by saying I was experiencing the negative impact from some of the members of the general public with looks of disgust and disdain or rude noises and comments as I go about my business at local retail stores or restaurants; and I had nothing to do with the incidences that were samples of the reason for the proposal. That is why I implored the council to pass this proposal for the safety of all transgender individuals and for us to be able to maintain our dignity and be respected for just trying to live our own lives with honor and pride.

Below are the voting results from each of the departments as posted on California’s State Laws Page:

3/22/23 – Public and Community Protections Committee – 5 Ayes …. 2 Noes

5/10/23 – Appropriations Committee – 12 Ayes …. 3 Noes

6/20/23 – Judicial Committee – 7 Ayes …. 2 noes

9/05/23 – Assembly Members – 25 Ayes …. 11 Noes

9/07/23 – Senate Members – 52 Ayes …. 20 Noes

9/23/23 – Approved and signed by Governor Newsome

9/23/23 – AB 994 Signed into CA State Law

Read full text of assembly bill 994.


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