Ithaca, New York, declared safe haven for trans people and offers healthcare protections

Person wearing a pink shirt and smiling, waving a transgender Pride flag behind them

The city of Ithaca, in the US state of New York, has been declared a safe haven for transgender people, with new protections for gender-affirming care access.

Ithaca was declared a sanctuary for trans people on 6 September after a bill was passed protecting access to gender-affirming care and strengthening discrimination laws, The Ithaca Voice reported.

The city reiterated in the law that discrimination against people because of their gender identity is illegal.

The law also states that the city will not co-operate with law enforcement officials from outside the state who are looking to “seek information about or extradite” those who have left other states in which gender-affirming care is illegal to pursue it, or practitioners of lawful gender-affirming care, in New York.

Jorge DeFendini, from the Ithaca Common Council, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Ithaca is officially a safe haven for those seeking and providing gender-affirming care. 

“Now continues the work to ensure easy access to said healthcare so queer Ithacans can safely and securely live their lives as authentically as they deserve.”

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Ithaca’s move comes just months after New York governor Kathy Hochul signed a raft of legislation designed to protect the state’s LGBTQ+ community.

Hochul enacted five bills ahead of the New York City Pride parade on 25 June, establishing the state as a “safe haven” for trans people

The legislation prohibits out-of-state agencies and laws from interfering with gender-affirming care in New York, and includes two bills on gender-neutral language for state laws and websites.

In a speech ahead of the signing, the governor lambasted other US states for their anti-LGBTQ+ stance. No American should be “enduring these injustices”, she said.

“New York is presenting the rest of the country with a template on how to treat LGBTQ+ people. We will always be that beacon to the rest of the nation on how to do it right.”

The bills are in stark contrast to much of the rest of the country as it cracks down on LGBTQ+ rights, with some 20 states, including Texas, Tennessee and Georgia, introducing laws to ban gender-affirming care for minors.

Proposed bans in other states have faced fierce legal challenges

According to data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union, approximately 130 pieces of legislation affecting trans healthcare are currently being tracked across the US.