Two ordinances passed by Pittsburgh City Council this week are set to protect gender-affirming care as many states take steps to outlaw it.

The first bill aims to keep Pittsburgh healthcare providers safe from out-of-state prosecutions by barring city employees from assisting in investigations or proceedings against them in relation to gender-affirming care, which includes social, psychological, behavioral and medical practices supporting people whose gender identities conflict with their genders at birth. 

The second bill would only take effect if Pennsylvania adopted restrictive laws on gender-affirming care, a “worst-case scenario,” according to Councilmember Barb Warwick.

“The second bill would be enforced when gender-affirming care is criminalized at the state and/or federal level,” Warwick said. “It’s a bill that we are really happy to pass, but we hope that people do not ever need to use it.”

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Both laws, sponsored by councilmembers Warwick, Bobby Wilson and Bruce Kraus, extend to  gender-affirming care health service providers, recipients and legal guardians. The first mirrors measures approved by city council last summer to protect abortion providers in Pittsburgh from out-of-state limitations and prosecution.

These initiatives come in the wake of 22 states passing legislation criminalizing gender-affirming care this year, including nearby West Virginia, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Ohio legislators have also introduced a bill criminalizing this care, which is awaiting a vote in the state House. 

Should a similar law be passed in Pennsylvania, or at the federal level, the second of the two city bills would only give city officials limited power to protect residents, by deprioritizing their enforcement. 

“If there is a court order, we might not be able to do much, but it will be at the bottom of our [priority] list,” said Warwick.

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Maria Montaño, communications director of Mayor Ed Gainey’s office, said the passing of these bills was “essential” not only for those who need the care but for health care providers as well.

“Gender-affirming care is health care and life-saving care; it saved my life,” said Montaño, who is the city’s first transgender woman press secretary. “As a city that has world-renowned and innovative health care, we have a responsibility to protect all forms of health care.”

Montaño said that the bills prove Pittsburgh is “ready to welcome everyone with open arms.”

Dena Stanley, executive director of TransYOUniting PGH, a mutual aid non-profit, providing resources to Pittsburgh’s trans community, said these bills are a “step in the right direction” but do not provide for other pressing needs of the trans community.

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“With these [bills] passing, we will see even more of an uptake for all kinds of support,” Stanley said. “It is great that we want to create a safe haven for the community, but  [City Council] needs to talk to us first to ensure our safety and well being as a whole.”

Stanley said that the organization has in recent months seen a greater increase of out-of-state individuals — mainly from Texas, Tennessee and Florida — requesting housing and financial services. 

The organization currently partners with Proud Haven, an overnight shelter dedicated to housing LGBTQIA+ youth. 

“Protection includes housing, and most shelters here are not accommodating to our community,” Stanley said. “The city simply needs to communicate with the community more.”

Erin Yudt is an editorial intern at PublicSource and can be reached at

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Erin Yudt is a senior at Point Park University majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology. She’s originally from Sharpsville, about an hour north of the ‘Burgh. Erin is the current editor-in-chief...