Sacramento just became a sanctuary city for trans people

Sacramento joins the growing number of sanctuary cities for transgender people following a unanimous city council vote.

The resolution ensures that the city resources, including officials, will not be used to cooperate with outside law enforcement attempting to extradite and prosecute trans families over gender affirming care. California itself became a sanctuary state in 2022 with the passage of SB 107, but city council member Katie Valenzuela described Sacramento’s resolution as a “strengthening measure,” according to The LA Times.

“This is the sort of thing that you hope is never necessary,” she said. “You hope it never gets triggered. That there’s never anyone coming to Sac who is potentially fleeing law enforcement for the sole reason of looking for health care.”

At the same time, Valenzuela praised the protections now on the legislature’s books. “This is more than just protecting the people who live here,” she explained. “This is also about protecting people who come here from other communities to ensure that we’re not aiding law enforcement activities in their home jurisdiction who may seek to criminalize their quest for healthcare.”

Other cities across the US — including New York City, Ithaca, Kansas City and Austin — have declared sanctuary status for trans citizens, offering varying levels of protection. This comes as states like Texas have ramped up invasive investigations into trans youth and their families.

“We can expect laws criminalizing out-of-state healthcare in the very near future,” said Emily Smet, one of the resolution’s drafters. “And in Sacramento, we want to be prepared for that.”

Before the vote took place, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg expressed optimism that it would face no opposition. Ultimately, all members voted in favor.

“We debate the many issues in our city, but there’s no shade of gray when it comes to civil rights,” Steinberg said. “And when it comes to talking about the human rights of people, our city is consistent and we’re strong.”

While the provision updates the letter of the law, activists have pointed out that the cost of living is a huge barrier to out-of-state trans people’s ability to take advantage of it. “Even though we have a progressive policy on the books at a statutory level, we need to ensure that there is more … access to services, access to care,” said David Heitstuman, director of the Sacramento LGBTQ Community Center.

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