Philadelphia mayor signs executive order protecting access to gender-affirming care

Gender-Affirming Care

Philadelphia Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order this week protecting transgender individuals’ access to gender-affirming health care.

Executive Order 4-23, which Kenney signed Oct. 17, prohibits Philadelphia city government employees from providing information or assistance to investigations intended to penalize anyone, whether a city resident or a visitor, for seeking gender-affirming health care within the city.

“Since the start of this administration, we have focused on advocating for LGBTQIA+ issues in all areas of City government,” Kenney said in a statement announcing the order. “This Executive Order, which protects individuals seeking, receiving and providing gender-affirming health care, will safeguard the dignity and equal rights of transgender and gender diverse people, whether they call Philadelphia home or seek care in our welcoming city.”

Kenney’s executive order comes amid the passage of a wave of legislation in Republican-controlled states aimed at limiting people’s access to gender-affirming care.

“Nearly 1.2 million LGBTQIA+ Americans have moved from their city or state in response to the record-breaking number of bills that have been passed, including 128,000 trans people,” Kenney said.

While none of the state-level bans and restrictions on gender-affirming care so far criminalize travel to other states for such care, some abortion opponents are attempting to criminalize or restrict out-of-state travel for abortion care, through both legal maneuvers and new laws. Anti-LGBTQ+ activists have co-opted strategies from the anti-abortion movement in the past.

Kenney’s announcement noted that more than 60,000 Philadelphia residents identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and the city has a long history of LGBTQ+ activism.

Sultan Shakir, president of the LGBTQ+ health care nonprofit the Mazzoni Center, thanked Kenney for the new executive order at an Oct. 17 press conference.

“Today’s order sends a clear message that we will not use city funds to hurt someone who’s just trying to receive health care,” Shakir said. “Thank you to Mayor Kenney for not only standing up for trans and gender-diverse individuals seeking care, but also, thank you, Mayor Kenney, for standing up for those who are working to provide that care. I just want to be clear that banning gender-affirming care for trans individuals helps no one. It only increases trauma and puts barriers in the way of people who are working to live their true authentic lives.”

Anna Gustafson contributed to this report.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.