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Sacramento Passes Resolution Declaring Itself a Transgender Sanctuary City

The resolution forbids the city from helping other jurisdictions in their pursuit to restrict gender-affirming care.

The city council of Sacramento, California, passed a resolution this week declaring the state capital a “sanctuary city” for transgender people.

The resolution that passed on Tuesday states that it will ensure that rights and access to gender-affirming care will be “upheld for all residing within the City of Sacramento,” and forbids cooperating with, or using city resources to provide information to, jurisdictions that ban lawful gender-affirming care as defined by the state of California.

“The City Council of the City of Sacramento hereby reiterates its commitment to transgender rights and equal protections for transgender community members and declares itself a sanctuary city and a place of safety for transgender people,” the resolution further states.

In a rationale statement attached to the resolution, the City Council explained why such a resolution was needed:

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. 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.

After an hourlong comment period in which residents in favor of and opposed to the resolution spoke out, the council voted unanimously to pass the measure.

The rights of transgender people — particularly the right to access health care options that affirm their gender identity — have been under attack in states across the country. Most of these attacks have centered on transgender youth, although some have also limited access to gender-affirming care treatments for trans adults.

Twenty-four states have banned some or all available best-practice forms of gender-affirming care. In response, fourteen states plus Washington, D.C. have passed gender-affirming care “shield laws” that ensure that residents can access such care.

The benefits of gender-affirming care can hardly be overstated — for children and adults who need it, gender-affirming treatment can drastically reduce depression and suicide ideation, with one study showcasing that it lowers actual suicide attempts by 40 percent among transgender people who desire such treatments.

The resolution passed by the Sacramento City Council ensures that no city resources can go toward aiding investigations in places where gender-affirming care is restricted.

“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, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, said on social media.

“This decision by the city council is a powerful message of inclusion, and the Sacramento LGBT Community Center is proud to be part of making this region a welcoming space for everyone,” read a statement from that organization to Truthout. “This resolution lets people know that Sacramento is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals, especially youth and seniors, who may feel isolated, unsafe, or unwelcome in their own communities.”

Other residents of the city also spoke to Truthout about the council’s vote.

“The resolution was really a grassroots effort by the queer community in Sacramento. … With a rising tide of hate in this country, it’s so important for trans people to stand up for trans rights in the halls of power — when we fight we win,” said Emily Smet, a trans woman and organizer with the Sacramento Democratic Socialists of America.

“While there were a handful of people who spoke in opposition to Sacramento becoming a Transgender Sanctuary City, there were over two dozen people who stood up and gave brave, honest and impassioned speeches about why transgender people matter and how much this means to us,” said Fox Rogers, a genderqueer resident of the city who attended the Tuesday night hearing. “I was so grateful and moved when the mayor and city council passed this unanimously.”

“I wish a sanctuary city resolution were not necessary, but I am also so thankful to the Sacramento DSA for bringing this resolution to our city council, and that it passed unanimously,” said Eli Conley, a trans singer-songwriter from the city. “It is no small thing knowing that this city has our back, from the grassroots activists to the halls of power.”

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