California Dem Senator and Donor to Radical State LGBT Group Launches Bid for Governor


Toni Atkins authored ‘self-ID’ law that lets anyone change his or her legal sex by simple self-attestation

Gold Award recipient Isabella Pena (L) of Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio joins a meeting with Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins (R) (Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Democratic state senator Toni Atkins, who has given tens of thousands of dollars to the LGBT group behind some of the state’s most radical policies, jumped into the crowded race for governor on Friday.

Atkins, who last month stepped down as the state senate leader, has personally and through her campaign given nearly $50,000 to Equality California, the powerful special interest group that helped write or push laws enshrining gender ideology in K-12 schools, allowing men into women’s prisons, and making the state a “haven” where out-of-state kids can come for sex-change hormones and surgeries. Atkins herself authored the Equality California-backed “self-ID” law that lets anyone change his or her legal sex by simple self-attestation—a controversial policy that critics say imperils women’s safety by letting males into their intimate spaces.

Atkins is the latest prominent state Democrat to jump into the 2026 campaign years ahead of the election as a laundry list of Sacramento power players vie to raise money and build name recognition in a race where there is no clear leader. George Soros-backed lieutenant governor Eleni Kounalakis, who has fostered ties with China and urged the state elections official to unilaterally ban former president Donald Trump from the ballot, was the first to announce her candidacy, followed by the scandal-plagued public schools chief Tony Thurmond who promotes gender ideology on K-12 campuses even as students struggle with literacy.

State controller Betty Yee, who faced legislative scrutiny for pushing a failed, $600 million no-bid COVID-19 mask deal, is also running. Rob Bonta, the state’s progressive attorney general who has made it a political priority to pressure schools to transition gender-confused kids behind their parents’ backs, is expected to announce his own bid.

Atkins’s various campaigns have given nearly $50,000 dollars to Equality California over her years in the state assembly and senate. She has personally donated thousands of dollars to the group as well, securing a spot in its donor “leadership circle.” Meanwhile Equality California’s political arm has backed her various campaigns for state office, starting with her 2010 campaign for state assembly.

As a lawmaker, Atkins carried some of the group’s contentious legislation. The self-ID law she authored in 2017 is similar to a measure passed in Scotland, which the British government nixed last year on the grounds that it hurt women’s sex-based rights. Women’s groups warn that these laws allow any male into intimate female spaces like restrooms, dressing rooms, spas, and locker rooms without checks. Equality California was also behind a similar law Atkins authored that lets prison and jail inmates change their names and sex without assessment or approval by their parole or probation officers.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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