Austin declares itself 'sanctuary city' for transgender youth

City council votes to deprioritize enforcement of state law restricting treatments for transgender minors.

Austin declares itself 'sanctuary city' for transgender youth
AP Photo/Eric Gay
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The Austin City Council has voted to make the Texas capital a "sanctuary city" for transgender youth seeking gender-affirming medical care, including hormone treatments and surgical procedures.

In a 10-1 vote on Thursday, the council approved a resolution directing the Austin Police Department to make enforcement of the state's ban on certain gender-affirming care for minors its lowest priority. The measure states that city resources and personnel will not be used to investigate, prosecute or penalize transgender or non-binary individuals obtaining such healthcare services, nor the providers offering them, the KXAN reports.

Mayor Kirk Watson framed the decision as preserving public safety priorities and meeting "the basic needs of all Austinites," according to local station KXAN. "The resolution is a statement that we care about all Austinites and want to use our limited city resources to serve and protect all our neighbors," Watson said.

The council vote drew divided reactions from Austin residents. One opposed the move based on personal experience receiving hormone therapy as a minor, citing medical complications that resulted. "This is not about taking away rights, it's regulating experimental medicine on children in a non-criminal way," the resident said, urging more therapeutic support for gender-questioning youth.

However, other community members voiced support for ensuring access to gender-affirming care. The city also affirmed it will not restrict eligibility for municipal funding to any groups that facilitate such treatments for transgender minors.

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  • By David Menzies

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