Hochul signs legislation making New York a safe haven for trans youth and families

Governor Kathy Hochul signed several bills into law ahead of the NYC Pride March on June 25.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed several bills into law ahead of the NYC Pride March on June 25.
Donna Aceto

Governor Kathy Hochul kicked off Pride Sunday by signing legislation making New York State a safe haven for transgender youth and doctors facing persecution in other states.

The Safe Haven bill was carried by two out lawmakers — State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal of Manhattan and Assemblymember Harry Bronson of Rochester — and cleared the State Legislature earlier in the month, paving the way for the governor’s final signature.

Hochul, flanked by top elected officials and LGBTQ leaders on the morning of June 25, signed that bill in addition to several others, including legislation giving individuals the right to receive tailored addiction treatment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity as well as a bill updating language on state documents to be gender neutral.

The governor also hailed the historic nomination of Seth Marnin to the New York State Court of Claims, which would make him the first out trans judge in New York State history and the first out trans man to serve as a judge in the United States.

The safe haven law bars New York State from considering a law from another state directing a child to be removed from their parent or guardian for allowing the child to receive gender-affirming care. It also prohibits law enforcement agencies from assisting with any out-of-state agency or department investigation related to providing gender-affirming care in New York State. The law further restricts New York from arresting or recognizing subpoenas due to out-of-state proceedings related to people coming to New York for gender-affirming care. Under the law, providers offering gender-affirming care cannot be extradited.

“So today, we’ll march,” Hochul said. “We’ll have a lot of fun. This is New York, by the way. We always know how to do fun the best, but also, we leave here recommitted in our quest for justice and equality for all, and we’ll always be that beacon to the rest of the nation on how to do it right. Because from Seneca Falls to Stonewall, we have stood up for people from the very beginning and let’s continue it.”

Hoylman-Sigal welcomed the governor’s final approval of his bill.

“Today, on Pride, New York makes clear to the nation that our state welcomes transgender children and their families by protecting them and their physicians who provide gender-affirming care with the enactment of our Trans Safe Haven legislation,” Hoylman said in a written statement. “This legislation comes at a crucial time as right-wing lawmakers are waging a war against transgender children and their families across the country, with 20 states having already banned or restricted gender-affirming care for young people.”

The development also drew immediate praise from Donna Lieberman, the out executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“As we mark Pride Month, New York has taken an important step to protect the rights and well-being of the trans community — particularly young people and their families,” said Lieberman, a past honoree of the Gay City News Impact Awards. “By signing the Hoylman-Sigal/Bronson bill, the governor is helping to make our state a beacon for access to gender-affirming care. In the face of nationwide attacks targeting transgender communities — and transgender youth in particular — this legislation ensures that New York will not participate in other states’ attempts to punish people for seeking or helping someone access gender-affirming care.”

The Callen-Lorde Community Health Center also issued a statement commending the legislative effort to make the state a safe haven.

“The passage of this bill highlights New York’s progressive values and reiterates that health care for all is a human right,” said Dr. Uri Belkind, associate director of medicine/adolescent medicine, and Aruna Krishnakumar, the managing director of adolescent and mobile health at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. “New York State once again sets itself apart from other states that are waging misinformation wars against the transgender community and ignoring scientific evidence to hurt transgender adolescents and their families, as well as attacking the doctor-patient relationship.”

NYC Pride grand marshal Billy Porter, who has won two Tony Awards, a Grammy, and an Emmy, also delivered remarks, thanking Hochul for signing the ball and denouncing leaders of other states — namely Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott — for their relentless attacks on the LGBTQ commnunity.

“They want to deny gender-affirming care to our transgender youth; they want to criminalize parents and doctors,” Porter said. “New York is not going backwards, we’re moving forwards. We will defend the progress we’ve made and we are going to build upon that.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined the state by signing a similar executive order this month.