N.J. Gov. Murphy declares Garden State a ‘safe haven’ for transgender, nonbinary people

While other states pass bans on transgender health care, New Jersey will be a “safe haven” for those seeking gender-affirming care, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday directing all state departments and agencies to protect those providing or receiving gender-affirming health care services. Under the order, state officials will be barred from cooperating in other states’ investigations into whether someone sought the care in New Jersey, and extradition to other states in those instances will be prohibited.

“Across the nation, we are witnessing attacks led by certain states that seek to undermine the equality, dignity, and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially transgender and nonbinary youth,” Murphy said in a statement. “As leaders, our greatest responsibility is ensuring that every person we represent, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression, is entitled to respect, fairness, and freedom.”

New Jersey is estimated to be home to more than 30,000 transgender and nonbinary residents, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA.

Murphy, a second-term Democrat who is rumored to be eyeing a presidential run, is pushing to make the Garden State a transgender refuge as nearly a dozen other states advance policies and laws to limit care for transgender and nonbinary people.

At least four states have banned gender-affirming health care for transgender youth, and more than 110 pieces of legislation restricting LGBTQ+ rights or attacking transgender youth have been introduced in state legislatures around the country, according to data from the ACLU.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been attacking transgender residents by asking public colleges to share statistics around students who have been treated for gender dysphoria and banning medical services for transgender minors, In an interview with Insider published Monday, Murphy criticized DeSantis’ policies specifically.

Medical experts say denying gender-affirming care is not only discriminatory but contributes to higher rates of suicide.

Murphy’s executive order came shortly after the state commemorated International Transgender Day of Visibility with a new website providing information for transgender residents. The site will act as a centralized hub touting programs and services to support transgender and nonbinary people. It includes information like how to change your name and where to find legal help.

The site is paid for by federal COVID-19 relief money, which spurred an outcry from Ocean County Republicans. They blasted the governor for using the pandemic funds while other “critical needs” go ignored.

“He could have helped struggling businesses, prevented cuts to our schools, or fixed the broken unemployment system, but building a transgender website was his priority. It’s ridiculous,” said Sen. James Holzapfel.

Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Sophie Nieto-Munoz

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