Kansas City Is Now Sanctuary City for Those Seeking Gender-Affirming Care

Kansas City, Mo., has declared itself a safe haven for transgender people seeking gender-affirming care.

The City Council approved a resolution to that effect Thursday. The move by Missouri’s largest city comes when the state legislature has passed a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans minors and certain others. Republican Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign it into law.

“This resolution directs City personnel to not criminally prosecute or impose administrative penalties on an individual or organization for providing, seeking, receiving, or assisting another individual who is seeking gender-affirming healthcare,” says a press release from the city. “If a law is put into place by the State of Missouri which imposes criminal punishment, civil liability, administrative penalties, or professional sanctions on an individual or organization against gender-affirming healthcare staff is directed to make this their lowest priority. The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is encouraged to adopt a similar policy.”

The resolution was introduced by Mayor Quinton Lucas and council members Andrea Bough and Eric Bunch.

“Kansas City government is committed to ensuring Kansas City is a welcoming, inclusive, and safe place for everyone, including our transgender and LGBTQ+ community,” Lucas said in the press release. “After the Missouri state legislature introduced several bills criminalizing access to gender-affirming health care 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. 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 .”

“Today, we reiterate our commitment to a diverse and inclusive Kansas City that is welcoming to all,” Bough added. “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. 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.”

“This is an important first step in Kansas City’s commitment to trans and nonbinary people,” Merrique Jenson, founder of Transformations KC, said in the release. “This resolution is critical to protecting health outcomes for trans people, and it’s important to remember that gender-affirming health care is still out of reach for many trans communities, including many trans people of color — especially trans women and women of color, poor trans people, and trans youth living in unsupportive homes. I look forward to trans leaders and Kansas City working together to address the health disparities in our communities and ways we can have sustainable funding and programming reaching all trans people.”

The Missouri House of Representatives Wednesday approved Senate Bill 49, which bans gender-affirming care for trans minors as well as all incarcerated people in the state and those who receive care under Missouri’s Medicaid program. Violation would be considered unprofessional conduct and result in revocation of a health care provider’s license.

It had already passed the Senate and was headed to Parson for his signature. It would take effect August 28 but would expire on that date in 2027, something Democrats negotiated with Republicans in the legislature. There is an exception for minors already receiving the care.

Legislators have also passed Senate Bill 39, barring trans athletes from competing under their gender identity on sports teams at both public and private K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities. Parson is expected to sign it as well.

“The passage of these bills continues the sustained attack on transgender youth by the State of Missouri,” Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a press release. “These bills knowingly inflict harm on Missouri’s young people while rejecting the facts and failing to address any legitimate government interest. Harming actual transgender children and teens simply because the legislature can do so is a shameful abuse of power. Missouri stands on the wrong side of history today, but the fight for equality isn’t over. LGBTQ+ people will not be pushed into the shadows.”

In April, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey had issued an emergency rule that imposed severe restrictions on gender-affirming care. It has been temporarily blocked by a judge while a court case against it proceeds. Bailey has also started investigations of Missouri clinics that provide this care.

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