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Sacramento declares itself a sanctuary city for transgender people

The California city passed a resolution Tuesday to ensure that no city resources will be used to criminalize trans people seeking transition-related care.
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The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to declare the California capital a “sanctuary city for transgender people.”

The resolution, which takes effect immediately, ensures that no city resources will be used to criminalize trans people seeking transition-related care or to cooperate with jurisdictions seeking to enforce laws that criminalize the care elsewhere.

It comes as conservative lawmakers across the country have enacted laws to limit both surgical and nonsurgical forms of gender-affirming care for minors — including puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy — within the last handful of years. Twenty-four states limit gender-affirming care for trans youths, according to LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project

“California has been a leader in protecting the rights of transgender individuals to access care, but many states across the nation are moving in the opposite direction,” the resolution reads. “In preparation of future legislation that may criminalize those providing or seeking gender-affirming care and given the Council’s stated values of equity and inclusion, it is important for the City of Sacramento to be proactive in reiterating our commitment to transgender rights and equal protections for transgender people by declaring ourselves a sanctuary city and a place of safety for transgender people.”

Proponents of the measure applauded the council’s unanimous vote.

“By affirming our commitment to supporting our LGBTQ+ community and ensuring that no city resources or staff time will be used to help enforce these harmful laws in other jurisdictions, the City has taken a step beyond state law and sent a powerful signal to everyone in our community that we are a safe place for everyone,” Sacramento Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who introduced the resolution, wrote on X. “Tonight’s testimony in support of this resolution was a powerful reminder of the resiliency and passion in our community to protect our transgender neighbors. I have never been prouder to represent this incredible city I call home.”

Opponents slammed the vote, arguing that gender-affirming care can be harmful to children.

“We cannot be giving children cross-sex hormones. We can’t give them surgeries to change their sex,” Beth Bourne, a member of a Sacramento chapter of Moms for Liberty, conservative group focused on school curricula, told NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento. “This sanctuary city is saying that we will promote the idea that people can be born in the wrong body.”

As debates over whether such care should be prohibited continue in state legislatures, major U.S. medical associations — including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association — have repeatedly come out in support of transition-related care, including for some minors. The AMA and APA have both deemed it medically necessary.

The Sacramento City Council is not the first governmental body to pass such a  measure aimed at safeguarding trans rights and gender-affirming care in particular. In recent years, 14 states and Washington, D.C., have passed legislation to protect access to gender-affirming care, commonly referred to as “shield laws,” according to MAP.

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