Kansas City, Mo. — As Missouri prepares to impose new restrictions on gender-affirming care for transgender people, advocates and local officials in Kansas City are pushing back with a proposal to declare the city a “safe haven” for the trans community.
The Kansas City LGBTQ Commission, an advisory board to the city council, sent a letter last week urging the council to pass legislation that would codify the right to receive and have access to gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, which some medical experts say can be lifesaving for trans people.
“In the City of Kansas City, we must take every action at our disposal to be proactive, reduce harm, and ensure that Kansas Citians have access to life saving healthcare,” the commission said in its letter.
The commission also asked county prosecutors in the region to exercise discretion in enforcing anti-LGBTQ laws and emergency rules issued by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican, that are set to take effect on Thursday.
The rules would require patients seeking gender-affirming care to go through a series of disclosures, assessments and documentation before receiving treatment. They would also prohibit minors from receiving such care without parental consent and a court order.
Bailey said in a statement that he was acting to protect Missourians from “life-altering pubertal suppression, cross-sex hormone therapy, and gender transition surgery” that he claimed pose “very serious side effects.”
But LGBTQ advocates and health care providers have challenged Bailey’s authority and scientific basis for the rules, arguing that they violate state and federal laws and interfere with the practice of medicine.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to block the rules from taking effect. The lawsuit claims that the rules would cause “irreparable harm” to transgender Missourians and their health care providers by denying them access to medically necessary care.
“Never before has an Attorney General sought to regulate the practice of medicine, let alone in this way, in Missouri,” the lawsuit said.
Councilwoman Andrea Bough, who chairs the city council’s finance committee, said she was working with other council members to draft a resolution that would support the trans community in Kansas City. She said they were trying to understand how much the city could legally do within the framework of the attorney general’s guidelines.
“We can say to members of our community that we see you, we welcome you, and we will support you in every way that we can,” Bough said. “We will not let those who seek to harm you come to our communities and step on our jurisdiction and impose their will on us to the highest extent of our capabilities and our laws.”
The resolution could be introduced as soon as next Thursday, Bough said. Meanwhile, transgender residents in Kansas City and across Missouri are anxiously waiting to see how the new rules will affect their lives and health.
Jessica Hicklin, a trans woman who is vice president of Metro Trans Umbrella Group, a nonprofit organization that supports trans people in Missouri, said she was worried about losing her hormone medication if the rules take effect. She said she tried to get more medication before Thursday but was denied by her pharmacy.
“Imagine great depression; you don’t function, it affects your entire life,” Hicklin said.