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Gov. Phil Murphy at Garden State Equality's 2021 Pride Walk. (Photo: Governor’s Office via Twitter).

Murphy signs executive order safeguarding transgender health care

Order was inspired by Zwicker bill, which has made no progress in legislature

By Joey Fox, April 04 2023 5:14 pm

In response to new laws in Republican-led states cracking down on health care for transgender people, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order today protecting gender-affirming care performed within New Jersey from outside investigations and restrictions.

“Across the nation, we are witnessing attacks led by certain states that seek to undermine the equality, dignity, and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially transgender and non-binary youth,” Murphy said in a statement. “We will continue to uphold [our] principles in New Jersey and support every person’s right to live freely and authentically by making our state a safe haven for those seeking or providing gender-affirming health care.”

Specifically, the executive order directs state departments and agencies to protect anyone providing or receiving gender-affirming care in New Jersey. It also prohibits the extradition of individuals to other states and bars executive branch agencies from cooperating with other states’ investigations.

The order is similar to a bill proposed by State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), which was also aimed at protecting gender-affirming care performed in New Jersey. A spokesperson for Murphy said that Zwicker’s bill, which had made no progress through the legislature, was the inspiration for the governor’s order.

But some parts of Zwicker’s bill, particularly provisions regarding child custody cases, are outside the purview of the executive order. And a number of other legislative proposals, including bills to collect more data on the LGBT community and to require school districts to adopt transgender-friendly policies, are also stuck in legislative purgatory.

As Zwicker said when discussing his bill several weeks ago, New Jersey is unlikely to go down the path of conservative states by restricting transgender health care – but he argued that the state should still act proactively for transgender people within its borders.

“We’ve read the headlines about what’s happening in other states,” he said. “My purview is New Jersey, so I can say that, within our boundaries, we are going to protect all New Jerseyans from the actions of other states.”

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