Ithaca has joined the growing number of cities in New York to declare itself a safe haven for trans people—both current residents and those from out-of-state fleeing anti-trans laws. The city’s Common Council passed the measure unanimously on Sep 6, local outlet The Ithaca Voice reports.
The new sanctuary law establishes protections against government investigations of trans residents, stating that the city will not cooperate with out-of-state agencies “seeking information about or extradition of clients seeking or practitioners.” In addition, the bill reinforces access to gender-affirming care and bolsters anti-trans discrimination protections.
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Ithaca follows New York City, which enacted its own safe haven law this past June. New York state Governor Kathy Hochul signed a state-level safe haven bill later that same month. But whereas the overarching state law prevents in-state courts from interfering with gender-affirming care, Ithaca and NYC go further in blocking out-of-state investigations.
“Ithaca is officially a safe haven for those seeking and providing gender-affirming care,” Common Council alderperson Jorge DeFendini wrote on social media.
“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.”
Along with celebrating the law’s passage, DeFendini reiterated why bolstering legal protections is important—even in ostensibly liberal states and cities. “We should not take the civil liberties and protections people have fought, organized and died for for granted,” DeFendini said. “Simply because something is state or federal law, that doesn’t mean something can’t be changed, and we must remain vigilant.”
With conservative legislatures in states like Texas having gone so far as to investigate healthcare providers and parents of trans kids as “child abusers,” sanctuary laws for out-of-state residents are a true lifeline. According to the Movement Advancement Project, New York is one of 14 states with shield laws on books that protect access to gender-affirming care—along with California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, and the majority of New England states.