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States Forming ‘Rainbow Wall’ for Transgender Youth, Families

May 3, 2022, 8:16 PM

Lawmakers and civil rights advocates announced Tuesday a 19-state coalition to create “a rainbow wall” of transgender refuges and pass laws to provide safe havens for trans youth and their families.

Bills advancing in California, New York, and Minnesota and being introduced in 16 other states are part of a national legislative campaign to protect trans youth and their families seeking gender-affirming care in response to laws passed in Texas and elsewhere. The bills, if enacted, would prevent enforcement of out-of-state orders restricting parental rights based on the parent approving care such as surgeries or drugs used to help individuals transition from their gender assigned at birth.

LGBTQ state legislators are introducing legislation “to push back on the far-right wing attacks on trans kids and their families, to move our states to being places of refuge for these kids and their family, a rainbow wall, if you will, against the hatred that is tragically spreading across our country,” California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told reporters at a news conference.

Advocates will introduce legislation in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia in their next legislative sessions.

“We think it’s new and it’s relatively untested, too, but in the immigration context, we’ve taken steps to be welcoming as a state when other states haven’t been to undocumented,” New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D) said in an interview.

“I would say that we have a free rider situation where states like California and New York are going to provide health care and other services to transgender kids and their families because other states don’t want to pay for it and, frankly, don’t think that this population is worth it,” Hoylman said. “It is an extremely sad state of affairs for transgender youth and their families in states like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Idaho, and others.”

Alabama’s law (S.B. 184), for example, makes it a crime to provide medical procedures or prescribe medications, including testosterone or estrogen, in order to “alter” a minor’s gender or delay puberty. The law carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

The New York legislation took its inspiration from bills protecting abortion rights, said Hoylman, the bill’s co-author. New York, like California, is debating safe harbor legislation for those seeking abortions in states that restrict abortion and that allow civil lawsuits against those who assist people in obtaining abortions.

“Trans kids and their parents are under attack right now across the county, and they’re under attack with a viciousness that we at Planned Parenthood of California are sadly all too familiar with,” Lisa Matsubara, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California general counsel and vice president of policy, told reporters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at; Brent Bierman at