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Sacramento declares itself a sanctuary city for transgender people

The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a resolution declaring the California capital a sanctuary for transgender people.

The resolution, which went into effect immediately, guarantees that none of the city’s resources — including staff time — are used to enforce laws passed in other states that restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender minors or adults.

Twenty-four states since 2021 have passed laws limiting access to treatments — including puberty blockers, hormones and surgery — for transgender youth, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit organization that tracks LGBTQ laws. Laws passed in states like Florida and Missouri also restrict access to care for certain trans adults, and GOP state legislators have increasingly targeted transgender people 18 and older in legislation filed this year.

Gender-affirming health care for transgender minors is already protected in California under a 2022 state law that shields families from being criminally prosecuted if they travel to California seeking care for their transgender children. The law does not apply to transgender adults.

Sacramento City Council members on Tuesday said the sanctuary city resolution is needed to ensure transgender people will remain protected in the event that the state’s existing safeguards are repealed.

“California has been a leader in protecting the rights of transgender individuals to access care, but many states across the nation are moving in the opposite direction,” the resolution states. “In preparation of future legislation that may criminalize those providing or seeking gender-affirming care and given the Council’s stated values of equity and inclusion, it is important for the City of Sacramento to be proactive in reiterating our commitment to transgender rights and equal protections for transgender people by declaring ourselves a sanctuary city and a place of safety for transgender people.”

City Council member Katie Valenzuela, who introduced the resolution, celebrated the council’s unanimous vote late Tuesday in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“By affirming our commitment to supporting our LGBTQ+ community and ensuring that no city resources or staff time will be used to help enforce these harmful laws in other jurisdictions, the City has taken a step beyond state law and sent a powerful signal to everyone in our community that we are a safe place for everyone,” she said.

Similar sanctuary resolutions, which are not legally binding, have been adopted by a growing number of cities, often in direct defiance of proposals made by Republican state lawmakers that threaten access to gender-affirming health care.

Including California, 14 states and Washington, D.C., have passed “shield” laws protecting access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.

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