Editor’s Note: An article on the Ithaca transgender safe haven resolution amendment was published on Aug. 25 that incorrectly stated it was passed by the Ithaca Common Council unanimously. That is incorrect, and the original article was retracted. The Sun deeply regrets this error.
Signaling increased support for transgender individuals in the City of Ithaca, the City Administration Committee unanimously forwarded a resolution bolstering the Ithaca Trans Safe Haven Resolution to the Ithaca Common Council on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
The resolution outlines six different regulations for providing safe access to healthcare for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the City of Ithaca.
The proposed regulations include language prohibiting the City of Ithaca from imposing criminal punishment for seeking or receiving gender-affirming healthcare or assisting another individual in receiving it. In the event that the New York State Legislature inflicts criminal punishment on anyone receiving gender-affirming healthcare, the City of Ithaca must make enforcing such a law their lowest priority. City personnel are not to give out information to other jurisdictions or enforce judgment in accordance with the other jurisdiction’s legislation unless required by lawful authority. The resolution also encourages all city departments to adopt a similar policy.
The resolution comes as a response to recent legislation regarding transgender rights being passed in other states such as Missouri and Florida that poses barriers or makes it illegal for transgender individuals to receive certain forms of healthcare.
In 1945, the New York State Legislature passed the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill — renamed the Human Rights Law in 1968 — which prohibited discrimination in employment based on race. Since then, it has been amended several times to include more identity groups of, such as those with disabilities, and more institutions, such as non-sectarian educational institutions. In 2019, the Human Rights Law was amended to include language that would explicitly protect people of any gender identity or gender expression.
Despite New York State already having certain protections for people of all gender identities, Caitlyn Hunter, community organizer for the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s Ithaca location, expressed belief that having specific protections in the city of Ithaca is equally as important as protections on the state level.
“Gender-affirming care is central to our work and integral to our mission to increase health equity throughout New York state,” Hunter said in her statement to council members. “We have to ensure localities in our state do all that they can to protect this community.”
Common Council alderperson for the Fourth Ward Jorge Defendini ’22, the sponsor of the resolution, expressed support for Hunter’s message. Defendini read out an amended resolution to the council in order to clear up language used in the original draft, making it easier for both lawmakers and citizens to understand the protections outlined in the resolution. His statement at the meeting emphasized Ithaca’s role in protecting its citizens.
“We have a power as a local government — whether it’s advocacy or actual policy and implementation — and we have a responsibility to use that with people’s best interests in mind,” Defendini said. “I am happy to be pushing for this resolution and happy to be continuing the fight afterwards.”
The resolution will be considered and voted upon at a future meeting of the full Common Council as early as Sept. 6.