SAN FRANCISCO, June 28, 2021 — Thirteen-year-old Ryland Whittington of San Diego joined California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Equality California Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang at a press conference in San Francisco on Monday regarding new additions to California’s state-funded travel restrictions list on Monday. Ryland is a transgender boy and uses the pronouns he and him. With his mother Hillary Whittington by his side, the young athlete had a message for lawmakers who attack transgender youth:

“My name is Ryland Whittington, I am 13 years old and I live in San Diego. I get good grades in accelerated classes, I am vice president of my middle school, I play ice hockey and I am missing my water polo practice to be here today. I am a typical teenager. I like to hang out with friends, give my little sister a hard time, surf at the beach, skateboard and make funny videos.

“Being trans is a very small part of who I am. It doesn’t stop me from being a strong teammate or being a good friend. Thankfully, I have never been told I can’t play on a sports team and I have never been denied medical care for who I am. I know that I am lucky to live in California. I am lucky to have leaders — like Assemblymember Low, Attorney General Bonta, and Senator Wiener — who are willing to stand up for me. I am lucky to have my friends & family who support me.

“To all of the leaders who are attacking trans kids like me around the country: We just want the same rights as everyone else. Please give all kids the opportunity to be happy, healthy, and live their lives with freedom and peace. Thank you.”

During the press conference, Attorney General Bonta announced that California will restrict state-funded travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia as a result of new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation recently enacted in each state. The states are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care, or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. The new restrictions on state-funded travel to the states announced today are prescribed by law in California pursuant to Assembly Bill 1887 (2016), authored by Assemblymember Low and sponsored by Equality California.

“AB 1887 helps protect California taxpayers’ hard-earned money from subsidizing discrimination against LGBTQ+ people elsewhere in the United States,” said Equality California Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang. “It protects LGBTQ+ students and state employees from being sent to states where they themselves might be subject to discrimination. And it sends a message to state legislatures across the country who attack kids like my friend Ryland, that California — the world’s fifth-largest economy and the nation’s most populous state — has Ryland’s back, and the back of every trans kid across the country.”

“Assembly Bill 1887 is about aligning our dollars with our values,” said Attorney General Bonta. “When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, California law requires our office to take action. These new additions to the state-funded travel restrictions list are about exactly that. It’s been 52 years to the day since the Stonewall Riots began, but that same fight remains all too alive and well in this country. Rather than focusing on solving real issues, some politicians think it’s in their best interest to demonize trans youth and block life-saving care. Make no mistake: We’re in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country — and the State of California is not going to support it.”

“We need to do everything in our power to support trans kids, whose very existence is being attacked by right wing politicians looking to score cheap political points,” said Senator Wiener. It’s disgusting. I’m proud that Attorney General Bonta is taking a stand and aligning California’s values and its wallet.”

“The current culture war is not a game,” said Assemblymember Low, who serves as Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. “This is a fight in which our opponents are motivated by fear and hate, even though the LGBTQ+ community has always been about love and inclusion. So as these states choose to regress to the toxic legacies of the past, I’m here to say that California will always move forward, and we will continue to support LGBTQ+ people everywhere. We won’t go back into the closet, and we will not stay silent. And California will never reward states that act in bad faith.”

Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ+ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve.