New York’s Democratic governor banned state travel to North Carolina this week, citing its residents’ supposed lack of equal protection under the law, weeks after he announced efforts to facilitate travel from New York to Cuba, which is ruled by a repressive communist dictatorship that routinely imprisons political dissenters.
"In New York, we believe that all people—regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation—deserve the same rights and protections under the law," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in announcing a ban on "non-essential" state travel to North Carolina.
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The move came in response to a new North Carolina law that restricts gendered restrooms to people of their respective biological sexes.
New York will no longer sponsor official travel to North Carolina, but Cuomo himself has recently undertaken official travel to Cuba, and teamed up with JetBlue airlines to encourage travel to the island nation, where the government has imprisoned and tortured transgender people.
Attitudes towards gay and transgender individuals on the island have liberalized in recent years, but many say they are still "harassed and detained by police," according to a January report from Public Radio International. "They also say they can’t get jobs."
One transgender individual described her attitude:
And even with US and Cuba relations normalizing now, she still can’t bring herself to ever go back home.
"I suffered too much trauma in Cuba. It would cause me too much panic to return there. I wouldn't go back, even for a short visit."
Her resolve hardens when she looks down at her arm. The self-inflicted scars left from her life in Cuba’s prisons are a permanent reminder of a time when she could not be free — could no [sic] be herself.