San Francisco leaders declare city sanctuary for transgender people

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared the city a sanctuary for transgender and non-binary people on Tuesday, making it the largest city in the country to make the distinction.

The declaration comes as conservative states ramp up efforts to limit transgender rights and access to gender-affirming care. It affirms that San Francisco will provide a place of safety for that community and providers of gender-affirming care.

The unanimous resolution follows the city’s famous “sanctuary city” policy for immigration, which bars city law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration agents. That policy, adopted in 1985, quickly spread to cities around the country and has sparked its own conservative backlash.

The Bay Area and San Francisco specifically have a long history with the LGBTQ community. The Castro district of the city is one of the first gay neighborhoods in the country, first coming to prominence in the 1960s.

San Francisco is also home to the country’s first transgender cultural district, honoring the site of a 1966 riot against police violence towards transgender people.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro, told The San Francisco Chronicle that the measure was directly inspired as a rebuke to conservative attacks on transgender people.

“A majority of these laws specifically target transgender people, including youth,” he said. “As other cities and states turn up the hate, places like San Francisco need to turn up the love.”

“With this resolution, we are reaffirming that our City has been and will continue to be a sanctuary and a beacon for our transgender and gender non-conforming siblings,” he added.

Over a dozen states have moved to limit access to gender-affirming care in the last two year as transgender rights have become a common political issue. 

The Trans Legislation Tracker, a research site dedicated to listing state bills intended to target transgender rights, found just over 600 such bills considered in 2023, as well as nearly 600 so far in 2024.

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