In February, a bill protecting reproductive and gender-affirming health care was signed into law in New Mexico.
The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act protects patients seeking reproductive and gender-affirming health care in every part of New Mexico, according to Representative Linda Serrato (D) – a sponsor of the House Bill.
“This is especially important in rural communities that have historically lacked access to care,” Serrato said.
Frankie Flores, Education Specialist of the LGBTQ Resource Center, said that greater access to gender-affirming health care will further protect New Mexico’s trans and non-binary community.
“We have seen a lot of anti-trans rhetoric in the media so I believe that the passing of House Bill 7 helps ensure that we are going to have our youth protected,” Flores said.
The LGBTQ Resource Center at the University of New Mexico works with entities like the Office of Equal Opportunity and the UNM Policy Office to ensure policies stay in place that guarantee transgender and gender non-conforming students have impartial access to education, employment and advising opportunities on campus, Flores said.
Gender affirming care is safe and evidence-based medical and mental health care that helps transgender and non-binary people live safe, happy lives, Serrato said.
“We also know it helps prevent suicide. Access to this care is the most influential factor in the health, safety and life-expectancy of trans and non-binary people,” Serrato said.
UNM student groups have organized to uplift Queer voices. These student groups include the Queer Student Alliance, UNM Association for Jotería Arts, Activism, Scholarship, Lambda Law Student Association and LGBTQ Students and Allies in Healthcare.
The legislation protects people in all areas of the state, including overruling rural counties’ recent restrictions. “What that means in practice is no matter what corner of our state you call home, your right to access this essential healthcare is protected,” Serrato said.
“This law prohibits public bodies, including local municipalities from denying, restricting or discriminating against an individual's right to use or refuse reproductive or gender affirming care,” Serrato said.
New Mexico promptly became a sanctuary state for those seeking reproductive and gender affirming care from surrounding states, following the passage of the legislation.
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“Our majority female House of Representatives already had some protections in place to keep access a right in our state. Since then, we’ve prioritized making this healthcare more accessible, not less. While other states attack and politicize intimate healthcare, we’ve become a safe haven for all those who seek and provide this care,” Serrato said.
The protection of rights to healthcare in New Mexico is inherent to the state’s values, Serrato said.
“The heart of New Mexico is in our familia so it’s no surprise we are a national leader in protecting essential health care and rights for our families,” Serrato said.
Milan Ortiz-Ruiz is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Milan Ortiz-Ruiz is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @ milanortiz_or