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San Francisco votes unanimously to become a sanctuary city for trans & nonbinary people

close up hands creating a heart with transgender flag in the background
Photo: Shutterstock

San Francisco, California has become the largest city in the nation to declare itself a sanctuary city for transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people to safely receive gender-affirming healthcare. The city’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to bar city officials from assisting any out-of-state investigations into individuals who obtain, provide, or help others access gender-affirming care.

It now joins a growing list of cities and states that have adopted safe haven policies in response to Republican-led state legislatures banning gender-affirming care across the country. Some of the legislatures refer to gender-affirming care as a form of “child abuse” and seek to prosecute individuals who help minors receive such care out-of-state, even though major medical associations say such care is safe and essential to trans people’s overall well-being.

“A majority of these laws specifically target transgender people, including youth,” City Supervisor Board Member Rafael Mandelman told The San Francisco Chronicle. “As other cities and states turn up the hate, places like San Francisco need to turn up the love.”

“With this resolution, we are reaffirming that our City has been and will continue to be a sanctuary and a beacon for our transgender and gender non-conforming siblings,” he added.

Cities that have recently declared themselves safe havens include Ithaca, New YorkNew York CityLawrence, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri. Minnesota, Washington, New York, Colorado, and California are also among the numerous states (plus D.C.) that have passed laws declaring the entire state a safe haven for gender-affirming care. Three additional states – Arizona, Maryland, and New Jersey – have passed executive orders declaring the same.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Endocrine Society, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend best-practice gender-affirming care for transgender children and adults, saying it has positive mental health outcomes and is not harmful. This past June, the American Medical Association doubled down on its support for trans health care by voting to protect access for youth and adults at its annual meeting.

San Francisco is also home to the world’s first Transgender Cultural District, a district that honors the historic events near Compton’s Cafeteria, where, in 1966, a coalition of trans women fought against the discriminatory actions of law enforcement. Notably predating the well-known Stonewall Uprising by three years, the Compton’s Cafeteria riot stands as a significant instance of civil resistance and advocacy within the LGBTQ+ community, marking a pivotal moment in history.

In 2021, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to officially recognize Transgender History Month.

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