Local community leaders respond to Missouri’s gender-affirming care ban
On the steps of City Hall, a coalition of city leaders and transgender advocates voiced their opinions on the recent ban.
Thursday morning, seven community members held a press conference at City Hall in response to Missouri’s recent ban on gender-affirming care and sports limitations for transgender athletes.
The ban was signed June 7 and went into effect on Monday, Aug. 28.
This comes shortly after the Missouri Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act was signed May 30, prohibiting Missouri healthcare providers from conducting gender transition surgeries, as well as prescribing medication for gender transition purposes.
In May, Mayor Quinton Lucas and other city leaders made a promise to the transgender community at the town hall. This promise stated that within 90 days of his reelection, Mayor Lucas would meet with trans leadership in the community to address future actions regarding city accountability since the passing of the Safe Haven Resolution in May.
Influential figures in the city and members of the trans community came to the north end steps of City Hall to air their voices on the situation.
Standing behind the trans flag draped on the podium, Lucas addressed how the city cannot help support the trans community due to the ban.
“We understand that there are many providers who face fear of revocation of licenses, face criminal penalties and beyond, in connection with legislation that has been passed in Missouri,” Lucas says. “We cannot be a safe haven in those situations.”
Lucas gave gratitude to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly for her vetoes on four anti-trans bills back in April, mentioning that gender-affirming care for Kansas City minors still remains available in the state of Kansas.
Within his opening speech, Lucas also stated that the city will ensure that safety net providers under contract with the city will not participate in procedures that marginalize the trans community.
“As part of our contractual negotiations with law firms, we’ll make sure that they give the affirming care and response that is necessary for all,” he says. “We will make that an essential part of our contracts with all of our safety net providers that work with Kansas City.”
He also stated that Kansas City will continue to support and contribute to litigation efforts that provide access for all.
DC Hiegert, LGBTQ legal fellow for the ACLU of Kansas, stated that one of the best ways to support the trans community during this time is to take action by providing aid and resources for those in need.
“The ACLU of Kansas and Missouri are currently fighting in the courts to defend trans Missourians’ right to healthcare and trans Kansans’ right to accurate identity and documents,” Hiegert says.
Hiegert’s and the ACLU’s fight in Kansas is to allow members of the trans community to have proper documentation of their gender on driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and other legal documents.
“There’s evidence that shows that if trans people can’t access an accurate gender marker, they won’t even go seek healthcare because they are so scared of having to out themselves or having a discriminatory thing occur because their license mismatches their appearance,” Hiegert says.
There were 496 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the nation this year, with 62 of the bills introduced in Missouri and Kansas, according to the ACLU’s tracking.
Jade Careaga, community advisory board member of Transformations, spoke on her experiences with the healthcare system as a trans woman.
“I remember very clearly the moment that I was shot and the terror that filled me in that moment. Even more poignant was the way that the healthcare field subsequently became a beacon of hope and healing for me,” Careaga says. “As someone who relies on Medicaid to cover the costs of gender-affirming healthcare, I understand the importance of having access to quality medical care.” Since her life-threatening circumstance, she has joined the medical field to give back to others who face similar situations.
Alexandria Paul, a trans community advocate and artist, spoke “directly” to the Christian community, stating, “God made trans people for the same reason he made fruit, but not wine, wheat, but not bread, so that humanity can share in the art of creation”—a quote found on TikTok.
Being a trans artist, Paul attributed Kansas City as a safe haven for them and other community members to create freely.
Merrique Jenson, president and executive director of Transformations, stated that many trans youths are not receiving gender-affirming surgery for a number of medical reasons and that some of the denials of trans rights in Missouri is rooted in ignorance.
“I think that a lot of this confusion is rooted around the idea that trans kids are having surgery, which is just absolutely false,” Jenson says. “Trans women, particularly trans women of color, are heavily loved by some of these men who are creating these laws. Who are loving us and desiring us behind closed doors.”
Follow-up action requires continual support for the Kansas City trans community, providing transportation and access to gender-affirming care in Kansas, including those who have been incarcerated.
Jenson stated that there are few resources and funding for trans organizations.
“There are some hands that are tied. That right now is not happening. I hope eventually it will,” she says.
Mayor Quinton Lucas and community leaders Justice Horn, Tre’Shawn Roberts, DC Hiegert, Kelly Nou, Jade Careaga, Alexandria Paul, and Merrique Jenson were among the eight speakers to give public statements at the press conference.