Transgender health care sanctuaries grow in blue states 2023


Democratic governors and state legislatures are designating their states as sanctuaries for gender-affirming care to fight Republican limitations on transgender health care.

Maryland became the 11th sanctuary state this month when Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive decree. A New York measure awaits Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature.

The first sanctuary state was California last year. It now includes Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington. Sanctuary cities include New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, and West Hollywood, California.

These states and communities are providing legal safeguards to health care professionals, transgender persons, and their allies from litigation and criminal repercussions from other jurisdictions.

Maryland’s executive order forbids the use of state resources, such as correctional facilities, to comply with subpoenas against transgender persons and their health care providers. All state agencies must “take whatever action is necessary” to safeguard anyone giving, receiving, or helping in gender-affirming care.

Transgender patients seeking gender-affirming care in Maryland will not be extradited, and doctors who provide it will not lose their licenses. Other sanctuary states have taken similar actions.

New York Democratic Assemblymember Harry Bronson led the sanctuary bill’s lower chamber approval.

In an interview with Stateline, Bronson stated, “That’s what New York state is saying by this piece of legislation, that we love you for who you are, and we’re going to support you.” “We’ll use whatever legal means we have to protect you from those who hate.”

Republican-led initiatives to prohibit or penalize gender-affirming medical therapy are based on parental rights, religious beliefs, and gender identity.

The Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ rights think tank, reports that at least 20 states have outlawed or limited gender-affirming care for kids.

Gender-affirming care for kids is a crime in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. In some places, regulations prohibit the use of public funds or state property to provide care or encourage social transitioning and prevent out-of-state providers from providing telehealth treatment.

On Tuesday, a federal court overturned Arkansas’ gender-affirming medical treatment prohibition for transgender adolescents. The restriction, which had been delayed for over two years, prevented doctors from giving under-18s “gender transition” therapies like hormones, puberty blockers, and surgery.

Puberty blockers, hormones, and procedures for minors are banned under Idaho’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act, signed into law by Republican Gov. Brad Little in April. The bill also makes gender-affirming health care for kids a criminal punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Little noted in a transmittal letter to state lawmakers, “In signing this bill, I recognize our society plays a role in protecting minors from surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies.” “However, as policymakers we should take great caution whenever we consider allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children.”

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