Democratic lawmakers in 16 states are following California’s lead in seeking to offer refuge for persecuted transgender children and their families.
The collaborative effort, announced Tuesday by the LGBTQ Victory Institute and other advocates, is in response to states like Texas and Idaho where politicians have attempted to pass policies that would prosecute parents who let their children receive gender-affirming care. For example, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott has instructed state agencies there to consider placing transgender kids in foster care, although a judge has temporarily blocked such investigations, the Associated Press reports.
To combat such policies, lawmakers in both Minnesota and New York recently introduced refuge state legislation based on the bill proposed by state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) in March in California. Now, 21 Democratic lawmakers representing 16 states have publicly committed to introducing similar bills, though about half of their legislatures are out of session or not currently accepting new bills.
Wiener began hearing from other states shortly after introducing his LGBTQ bill, which would reject any out-of-state court judgements seeking to remove transgender children from their parents’ custody because they allowed gender-affirming health care. It would also block subpoenas pursuing information about people traveling to California to receive such care, and would flag warrants to those medical treatments as “the lowest priority for law enforcement in the state.”
In a statement Tuesday, Wiener said, “We’re making it crystal clear: we will not let trans kids be belittled, used as political pawns and denied gender-affirming care. We won’t let their parents be criminalized or have their kids taken away. This first of its kind legislative effort sends a clear message both to our community and to those who are attacking our community—that we’re all in this together.”
Joining the effort are LGBTQ lawmakers in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, acknowledged that the legislation will fail in some states but said it is crucial to get ahead of the onslaught of bills targeting the LGBTQ community.
“When trans kids’ lives are on the line, playing defense doesn’t cut it,” Parker said in a statement. “It’s time to play offense. We are using the collective power of LGBTQ state legislators all across the nation to launch a counter-offensive that aims to protect trans kids and parents while also demonstrating that there is a positive agenda for trans people that lawmakers can support.”
Parker, who was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major American city when she led Houston for six years, added, “While LGBTQ elected officials will fight tooth and nail to get these passed in every state, now we need allies to step up to help us get it done. And even in states that have little chance of these bills advancing, the message it sends is still incredibly important: trans kids need to know they have leaders standing up and fighting for them.”
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