Gov. Murphy signs executive order protecting access to gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary youth

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018 file photo

Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 326 which establishes New Jersey as a “safe haven” when it comes to people accessing gender-affirming services. As reported by NBC New York, Executive Order No. 326 will allow those who are transgender or non-binary to have the same, equal access to health care services. This includes both residents and non-residents of the state.

“Across the nation, we are witnessing attacks led by certain states that seek to undermine the equality, dignity, and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially transgender and non-binary youth,” Gov. Murphy stated. “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.”

This year and last year has seen a number of states introduce various anti-trans legislation. The Trans Legislation Tracker documents that 492 anti-trans bills were introduced this year alone. Many of the bills being proposed in various states would limit access to gender-affirming services for minors, like in Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, and other states.

Executive Order No. 326 outlines that it intends to support a trans or non-binary person’s identity through guaranteeing equal access to mental health treatment and medical services including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), as well as surgical and non-surgical care. The Order goes on to prohibit insurers from denying medical care due to a person’s gender identity.

As released by the official website of the State of New Jersey, the Order would also  prohibit the, “… extradition of an individual within New Jersey to another state for providing, receiving, or otherwise facilitating gender-affirming health care services that are legal in New Jersey, and prohibits Executive Branch departments and agencies from cooperating with interstate investigations aiming to hold someone liable for civil or criminal penalties associated with such care.”

Many LGBTQ activists and organizations praised the measure signed by Gov. Murphy on April 4. “As Trans people are under attack by state governments across our country, we’re grateful Governor Murphy signed today’s executive order, which comes just after the state launched the Transgender Information Hub last week on Trans Day of Visibility,” said Christian Fuscarino, the Executive Director for Garden State Equality. “We’re proud to be from a state where the Governor understands that the fight for LGBTQ+ equality isn’t limited to a specific day, week, or month, and we thank him for taking yet another action to protect trans people in New Jersey and those who care for them.”

“When transgender youth are under attack across the country, this gives me hope,” said  Rebekah Bruesehoff, a youth activist. “I have always been grateful to live in New Jersey, but I am especially proud now to see my state take action that will protect and support not only me but my friends in states across the country.”

While this is a historic action aimed to protect transgender and non-binary, anti-trans legislation has been sweeping the nation, including in New jersey. The ACLU documents six anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans bills that were introduced this year within the State Legislature. All the bills were introduced by Republican lawmakers.

Although these bills have a near-zero chance of becoming law due to Democrats having trifecta control of the state government, other anti-trans bills are being introduced in every state. LGBTQ activists say Gov. Murphy’s signing of Executive Order 326 provides the community a protective measure.

This has been noted by some parents of LGBTQ youth. “Families like mine across the country are being made into political refugees because of their state governments,” said Jamie Bruesehoff, the mother of Rebekah. “They are hurting and scared. Kids like Rebekah should get to be kids instead of fighting political bullies. I’m so grateful to Governor Murphy for his continued leadership, and I’m proud to be a New Jerseyan.”