News (USA)

Kansas City declares itself a “sanctuary city” for transgender people

People protesting and a sign says "PROTECT TRANS KIDS"
Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Kansas City, Missouri is now a “sanctuary city” for trans people following a 12-1 vote by the Kansas City Council to declare itself one. The move comes in response to the state’s Republican-led legislature passing two bills aimed at limiting the rights of transgender Missourians.

As the Associated Press reports, on Wednesday, Republican lawmakers sent two bills to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R). One would ban gender-affirming healthcare like puberty blockers and hormone therapy for trans youth as well as some adults. The other bans trans athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at all grade levels and in college at both private and public schools. Parson is expected to sign both bills.

In response, the Kansas City Council on Thursday voted 12 to 1 to approve a resolution to declare the city a sanctuary for people seeking or providing gender-affirming care. As a result, city officials will not prosecute or fine individuals or organizations under the state’s new anti-trans laws. City staff are also instructed to make enforcing the ban on gender-affirming care “their lowest priority.” The Kansas City Police Department has also been encouraged to adopt a similar policy, The Los Angeles Blade reports.

“Kansas City government is committed to ensuring Kansas City is a welcoming, inclusive, and safe place for everyone, including our transgender and LGBTQ+ community. After the Missouri state legislature introduced several bills criminalizing access to gender-affirming healthcare across Missouri, I am proud City Council took action and approved the ‘safe haven’ resolution to take steps, within our legal power, to protect our transgender community and anyone seeking gender-affirming care,” Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) said. “For decades, Kansas City has been at the forefront of our region, ensuring we have equality for all, and we will continue to do everything in our power to fight for equal rights for all in our city, no matter what happens at our state capitol.”

Councilwoman Andrea Bough, the resolution’s sponsor, said that the measure was a reiteration of Kansas City’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“As a woman and a mother, I strongly feel that personal health care decisions should be reserved for individuals, families, and their physicians without influence from politicians,” Bough said. “Public service should be about helping the community not harming individuals. Today we are proclaiming to our transgender and LGBTQ community that you are safe with us.”

The city’s LGBTQ Commission previously sent a letter to city council members urging them to pass legislation to make Kansas City a “safe haven” for transgender people, following an “emergency regulation” issued by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) in April to severely restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare in the state.

The rule would require both minors and adults in Missouri to receive 15 hourly sessions with a therapist over at least 18 months before receiving gender-affirming care such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers. They would also have to be screened for autism and “social media addiction,” and any mental health issues would have to be treated and resolved before they would be eligible for treatment for gender dysphoria.

Critics described the move as a “power grab” by Bailey, who is campaigning for reelection. A Missouri judge temporarily blocked the rule late last month.

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