• May 30, 2024

More blue states designate transgender health care sanctuaries 2023

Democratic governors and state legislators are fighting Republican limits on transgender health care by declaring their states gender-affirming care sanctuaries.

Democratic Gov. Wes Moore declared Maryland a sanctuary state earlier this month. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul must sign a measure that passed the legislature.

California became the first sanctuary last year. Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington joined. New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, and West Hollywood, California, are becoming sanctuaries.

These states and towns are legal havens for health care providers, transgender persons, and their allies.

Maryland’s executive order bans using state resources like prisons to comply with subpoenas against transgender persons and their health care providers. It requires state authorities to “take whatever action is necessary” to safeguard persons giving, receiving, or traveling for gender-affirming care.

The order also protects transgender Marylanders from extradition and doctors from losing their licenses for delivering gender-affirming care. Sanctuary states have taken similar steps.

Transgender health care sanctuaries grow in blue states.

New York Democratic Assemblymember Harry Bronson, who led the sanctuary bill’s lower house passage, emphasized his state’s support for transgender persons.

“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,” Bronson told Stateline. We’ll defend you from haters through legal measures.

Republican-led initiatives to restrict or punish gender-affirming medical therapy have grown in recent years due to parental rights, religious convictions, and the gender identity issue.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ rights think tank, at least 20 states have outlawed gender-affirming care for kids.

Five states—Alabama, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, and Oklahoma—have made gender-affirming care for kids a felony. Other states restrict telehealth care from out-of-state providers and prohibit the use of public funds or state property to provide care or encourage social transitioning.

A federal judge overturned Arkansas’ transgender minors’ gender-affirming medical treatment prohibition on Tuesday. For over two years, doctors were barred from prescribing “gender transition” drugs, puberty blockers, and operations to minors.

In April, Republican Gov. Brad Little signed Idaho’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act, banning puberty blockers, hormones, and procedures for minors. Gender-affirming health care for children is a crime punishable by 10 years in jail.

“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,” Little stated in a transmittal letter to state lawmakers. “However, as policymakers we should be cautious when considering allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children.”

Arizona, Georgia, and Texas allowed pharmacological or nonsurgical gender-affirming therapy and allowed juveniles who were diagnosed or undergoing treatment before the law’s passage to continue or wean off medication.

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