New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Tuesday signed an executive order establishing the state as a safe haven for transgender young Americans and their families.
Murphy’s executive order, which is effective immediately, prevents individuals in New Jersey from being extradited to another state for providing, receiving or “otherwise facilitating” gender-affirming health care services that are legal in the state.
The order additionally bars state departments and agencies from cooperating with interstate investigations that seek to hold a person liable for civil or criminal penalties associated with gender-affirming care.
“All Executive Branch departments and agencies shall, to the fullest extent of their authority, pursue opportunities and coordinate to protect people or entities in New Jersey providing, receiving, assisting in providing or receiving, seeking, or traveling to obtain gender-affirming health care services,” the order states.
Murphy in a statement on Tuesday said the executive order was motivated in part by a tidal wave of state legislation targeting the rights of LGBTQ people across the country. More than 450 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced this year in at least 44 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and at least 24 have already passed into law.
“As leaders, our greatest responsibility is ensuring that every person we represent, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression, is entitled to respect, fairness, and freedom,” Murphy said Tuesday. “We will continue to uphold these principles in New Jersey and support every person’s right to live freely and authentically by making our state a safe haven for those seeking or providing gender-affirming health care.”
State lawmakers in New Jersey this year introduced six bills targeting LGBTQ people, according to the ACLU, including one measure that seeks to prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming health care to minors.
Rebekah Bruesehoff, a transgender 16-year-old field hockey player from New Jersey whose story has been spotlighted by groups including the Human Rights Campaign and the Congressional Equality Caucus, on Tuesday said she was grateful to her state for taking action amid an onslaught of legislation in other states that targets her identity.
“When transgender youth are under attack across the country, this gives me hope,” she said in a statement released by Murphy’s office. “Transgender kids and teens like me just want to live our lives and be ourselves.”
”I cannot possibly overstate the importance of this action,” Rebekah’s mother, Jamie Bruesehoff, said Tuesday. “Families like mine across the country are being made into political refugees because of their state governments. They are hurting and scared.”
“Kids like Rebekah should get to be kids instead of fighting political bullies,” she said.