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Hochul pledges that New York will remain a ‘safe haven’ for transgender children

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers remarks on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
Don Pollard
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Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers remarks on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke out Monday about what she called right-wing attacks on transgender children.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, she said the state is trying to protect their rights as well as those of other LGBTQ people.

Hochul, a Democrat, said some Republican governors are participating in a “well-funded, coordinated effort to destroy the rights” of the LGBTQ community and “stoke the flames of hatred.”

“This, as a mom, is really hard,” said Hochul, who is the first female governor of New York. “The attacks on our kids, our trans kids, particularly.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May signed a bill banning gender-affirming health care for minors.

In Texas, that state’s Supreme Court in late August upheld a similar law.

Seventeen other states, all led by GOP lawmakers, have passed some type of restriction on transgender care for children.

“The fact that you are a governor of a state, and you still find the time to wake up every day and it's like, 'How can I attack the LGBTQ community?' You ought to have enough to do, other governors,” Hochul said. “They're the ones stoking the flames of hatred and division.”

Hochul listed steps that New York has taken to protect those who need gender-affirming care and said other governors could learn from it.

In late June, the governor signed a bill into law that establishes New York as a “safe haven” for gender-affirming care for children whose doctors determine that they need it.

The measure also protects children receiving such care from being removed from their parent or guardian in New York, even if the other parent or guardian lives in a state where laws allow that.

It also prohibits law enforcement from cooperating with other states where the care is banned from trying to prosecute a parent or doctor in New York.

The state will also not cooperate with subpoenas seeking any health or related information about people who come to New York to receive gender-affirming care.

“You come here; we'll protect you,” Hochul said. “We'll make sure that there are no prosecutions, no one gets sent back to your state. We'll protect the doctors, the providers, the supporters, the family, and the individuals seeking this care. We said if you come here, other states won't be able to touch you.”

Hochul said the state is also investing in teen suicide prevention, with a special focus on LGBTQ youths.

And in January of this year, the state Health Department began permitting people the option of choosing an “X” for their gender on driver’s licenses and birth, marriage and death certificates.

Hochul said these small changes send a “big message.”

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Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.