People and health care providers forced to leave states with laws limiting access to gender-affirming medical care and abortion may soon be eligible for a $500 tax credit if they move to Illinois.
Legislation filed Thursday by Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Democrat, would create the income tax credit. The benefit would be available only to taxpayers who permanently relocate to Illinois from a state with more stringent abortion laws or laws that restrict access to other “lawful health care,” including gender-affirming care, for the purposes of either providing or receiving treatment.
Public school teachers who relocate to Illinois because of “content-based restrictions” in their home state that prevent them from addressing subjects like race, gender identity or sexual orientation in the classroom would also be eligible for the tax credit, according to Cassidy’s bill.
Cassidy in a statement shared to social media late Thursday said the measure is meant to ease the burdens of moving for individuals and families who feel they have been left with no other choice but to uproot their lives and move elsewhere.
“When I left Florida in 1991 seeking a place that was more accepting of the LGBTQ community, it took months of planning and expenses,” said Cassidy, one of just two openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly.
“When I imagine a family with a trans kid being forced to flee their home just to access care for their child, or a couple facing a devastating pregnancy outcome realizing they’re simply not safe where they’ve made their home needing to act immediately, it’s just overwhelming to contemplate,” she added.
State laws targeting LGBTQ people have surged in recent years, with more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills filed last year alone, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). More than 80 of them became law.
This year is already shaping up to be another record-shattering year for state legislation targeting the LGBTQ community, with close to 400 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced or carried over from last year, according to the ACLU.
In a recently released survey of more than 92,000 transgender people in the U.S., more than 4,000 said they left their homes in 2022 because of anti-LGBTQ legislation. U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate, told Politico on Tuesday that states restricting access to gender-affirming health care and abortion are creating “medical refugees.”
Twenty-three states and counting have passed laws that ban gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit group that tracks LGBTQ legislation. Some restrictions also apply to adults.
At least 29 states since the Supreme Court struck down federal abortion protections in 2022 have limited access to abortion, according to Planned Parenthood, though the severity of restrictions vary by state. Abortion is completely banned in more than a dozen GOP-led states.