The Protection of Gender Affirming Care in New York

What’s happening?

We have discussed the many states that are passing bans or restrictions on abortion or gender-affirming care. While it may seem like a new set of these laws is being passed almost every week, they aren’t the only laws being enacted in response to the rollbacks from the Supreme Court. Conversely, since Roe was overturned, many laws from Democratic-run states aim to secure freedoms once considered unshakable. Today, we will examine the recent law in New York that seeks to safeguard gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

Is Change Coming?

Less than two months ago, New York joined the list of states passing counter-legislation against the seemingly identical wave of states seeking to ban gender-affirming care. This new “safe haven” law halts state courts from enforcing laws from other states that authorize the removal of a child from their home if parents or guardians permit them to explore gender-affirming care. This measure, which took effect nearly immediately after being signed by New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul (Democrat), also prevents state law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state agencies. It prohibits New York courts from deeming gender-affirming care for kids as “child abuse” unless the actions would qualify as abuse under New York’s laws.
This isn’t the only law being passed. Alongside the aforementioned law, there is legislation protecting members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community from discrimination while seeking addiction and substance abuse treatment services. Additionally, bills are being introduced that update the definition of sexual orientation to align with modern times and incorporate gender-neutral terms into state laws and agency websites.
I recognize that a lot of information has been presented, and many within the community and allies remain cautious about inclusive efforts by state and federal governments. The timing of the safe haven law’s passage during Pride Month might be seen as political theater. So, how do we approach these departures from the oppressive news of states aiming to erase transgender people? The facts guide us because if we examine the states and governments passing bans and restrictions, they contradict the facts surrounding gender-affirming care.
Some of the facts include the endorsement by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics of the scientific conclusion that hormone replacement therapy (HRT), puberty blockers, and trans-inclusive mental health services are the best treatments for kids experiencing gender dysphoria.

The Key Points

We lean into these facts as we navigate news of progress. It’s not easy; queer and trans individuals have valid reasons not to trust the government or police. We each need time to process the facts, including the fact that 20 states have implemented significant restrictions on gender-affirming care. Texas, for instance, directs state child welfare agencies to investigate parents of trans youth believed to be receiving gender-affirming care. The safe haven law can be seen as a response to this Texas measure.
No law is flawless, and laws must evolve as society does. Changes will always occur in laws that seek to protect the most vulnerable. Hopefully, what sets these laws apart from those in Texas is our commitment to listening to the facts and those affected by these laws. As we consider New York’s situation, we hope this new law fulfills its promise and extends further protections for the trans community. We must collectively hold the government accountable should circumstances change. We see this power being exercised in states like Alabama, Florida, and Indiana, where legal battles are blocking anti-trans laws. Even when things appear dire, action can always be taken.