New Jersey declared ‘safe haven’ for trans people: ‘Respect, fairness, and freedom’

New Jersey’s governor has declared the state a safe haven for those seeking gender-affirming care. 

On Tuesday (4 April), Democrat governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 326 which directs state departments and agencies to protect those providing, and receiving, gender-affirming care services in the state. 

The order explicitly prohibits executive government departments, agencies and officials in the state from co-operating with investigations from other states seeking to “impose civil or criminal liability or professional sanctions” on people providing – or having – gender-affirming healthcare in New Jersey.  

Murphy’s move comes as Republican states file increasingly harsh anti-LGBTQ+ bills that seek to restrict access to – and, in some cases, outright ban – gender-affirming care, stop trans people from playing sport, ban drag shows and roll back same-sex marriage protections. 

“Across the nation, we are witnessing attacks led by certain states that seek to undermine the equality, dignity and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially transgender and non-binary youth,” Murphy said in a statement.

“As leaders, our greatest responsibility is ensuring that every person we represent, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression, is entitled to respect, fairness and freedom. 

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“We will continue to uphold these principles in New Jersey and support every person’s right to live freely and authentically, by making our state a safe haven for those seeking or providing gender-affirming health care.”

The aim is to create an inclusive and respectful state, but the law is not limited to New Jersey residents. 

Murphy said that members of the LGBTQ+ community in New Jersey will “enjoy equal access to quality health care services, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and regardless of whether they are a resident of New Jersey or any other state”. 

The governor signed the order into effect alongside representatives of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Christian Fuscarino, the executive director of LGBTQ+ equality organisation Garden State Equality, said New Jersey “continues to be one of the best states in the nation to live as an LGBTQ+ person”. 

He added: “As trans people are under attack by state governments across our country, we’re grateful governor Murphy signed today’s executive order, which comes just after the state launched the Transgender Information Hub on Trans Day of Visibility. 

“We’re proud to be from a state where the governor understands that the fight for LGBTQ+ equality isn’t limited to a specific day, week or month, and we thank him for taking yet another action to protect trans people in New Jersey and those who care for them.”

Trans youth activist Rebekah Bruesehoff said the order gives her hope. 

“I have always been grateful to live in New Jersey, but I am especially proud now to see my state take action that will protect and support not only me but my friends in states across the country,” she said. 

“Transgender kids and teens like me just want to live our lives and be ourselves.”

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