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Strategic Initiatives – Protect & Promote Equality

Making New York a Haven for Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care

New York has often served as a bellwether for the protection of core civil liberties. As many states across the country have moved to ban or severely restrict access to abortion and gender-affirming care, the NYCLU’s work to advance equality has only become more essential. Our state must lead the fight against extreme anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ agendas while keeping New York a safe place for those providing, assisting in, and obtaining essential health care.

In June, two crucial NYCLU-backed bills were passed in Albany and signed by Governor Hochul that represent huge victories for the rights of New Yorkers. This new legislation comes at a pivotal moment when many people are looking to our state for guidance and protection. In a significant win for bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, S.1066B/A.1709B protects providers, patients, and those who help others access abortion care against attacks from hostile states where abortion care is severely restricted or criminalized. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s shameful Dobbs decision, 25 million women aged 15-44 are now living in forced-pregnancy states and face potential criminal penalties for their health care decisions. This shield bill sends a powerful message that New York will not be complicit in other states’ cruel attempts to punish people for providing, seeking, and supporting abortion care.

The governor also signed S.2475-B/A.6046-B, which protects gender-affirming care in the state and prevents New York from cooperating with hostile states’ retaliation against gender-affirming care providers and patients, their family members, and those who help people access care. No fewer than 23 states have passed laws attacking gender-affirming care for transgender youth—and sometimes for transgender adults—and some establish criminal penalties for providing such care. Gender-affirming therapy, including hormone therapy, can be immensely valuable, providing people with the opportunity to learn more about gender identity and feel supported by those around them. Those who live in deeply conservative states that target medically necessary health care for transgender, gender non-conforming, and nonbinary people fear that legislators will remove children from their families or take away this lifesaving care entirely. This historic legislation protects the rights and well-being of transgender people, particularly youth, by preventing New York law enforcement from cooperating with another state’s investigation against providers, patients, family members, and those who support them—and by ensuring that supportive parents who help their child obtain gender-affirming care will not be charged with child abuse. New York must remain a beacon for access to gender-affirming care and a safe refuge for these families.

Additionally, our lawsuit on behalf of a transgender woman named Makyyla Holland resulted in a landmark settlement with Broome County mandating broad policy changes that affirm access to medical care and freedom from discrimination and abuse for transgender people in custody. This year, the NYCLU and our partners also wrote two important sign-on letters: one urging passage of the New York Health Information Privacy Act, which would allow for stronger privacy protections against the improper use of New Yorkers’ electronic health data, and another in support of a bill that would improve hospital transparency by giving prospective patients tools to determine whether the hospital in their area provides the care they seek prior to admission.

The NYCLU has worked relentlessly to protect and advance LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, and the rights of pregnant people. We will never stop defending the rights of New Yorkers to make decisions about their own bodies and live as their authentic selves, free from harm, discrimination, and government interference.

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The NYCLU and its partners wrote a letter to all sheriffs in the state regarding new policies that clarify the proper treatment of transgender people in custody, and we published an op-ed in support of the Gender Identity Respect, Dignity, and Safety Act.

Read more about our efforts to promote reproductive rights and justice for all New Yorkers.

Banner Design by Artist Ambassador Jessie Mahon, @jessiemahon_