Kansas City declares itself a sanctuary city for transgender people

The move follows the passage of two measures by the state’s Republican-led legislature restricting the rights of transgender Missourians.

The Kansas City Council has voted 12 to 1 to make Kansas City, Missouri, a “sanctuary city” for transgender individuals seeking or providing gender-affirming care. The move comes after the state’s Republican-led legislature passed two measures restricting the rights of transgender Missourians. The first measure prohibits gender-affirming healthcare, such as hormone treatment and puberty blockers, for transgender adolescents and certain adults. The second measure bans transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at all grade levels, as well as in college at both private and public institutions. Both measures are expected to be signed into law by Missouri Governor Mike Parson.

The Kansas City Council’s decision means that local officials will not prosecute or punish individuals or groups for providing or seeking gender-affirming care, despite the state’s new anti-trans legislation. Additionally, city employees have been told that implementing the restrictions on gender-affirming care is their “lowest priority.” The Kansas City Police Department has been encouraged to implement a similar policy.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, has said that the Kansas City government is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all residents, including transgender and LGBTQ+ communities. “For decades, Kansas City has been at the forefront of our region, ensuring we have equality for all,” he said. “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.”

The resolution’s sponsor, Councilwoman Andrea Bough, has also emphasized the importance of personal healthcare decisions being left to individuals, families, and their physicians. “Public service should be about helping the community rather than causing harm to individuals,” she said. “Today, we declare to our transgender and LGBTQ communities that they are safe with us.”

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

Under the state’s new legislation, before receiving gender-affirming care such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers, Missouri children and adults would have to attend 15 hourly sessions with a therapist for at least 18 months. Children would also have to be examined for autism and “social media addiction” before receiving treatment for gender dysphoria, and any mental health concerns would have to be addressed and remedied.

Critics have accused Bailey, who is running for reelection, of engaging in a “power grab.” Late last month, a Missouri court temporarily suspended the regulation.

The Kansas City Council’s decision has been welcomed by transgender and LGBTQ+ rights groups. “We applaud Kansas City for affirming the dignity and worth of transgender people,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “When states attack our basic rights, it’s critical that cities like Kansas City step up to protect their residents.”

The move also reflects a broader trend of cities and states implementing their own policies to protect transgender rights in the face of increasing hostility from state and federal governments. In recent years, a number of states have attempted to restrict transgender people’s access to healthcare, housing, and public spaces. At the federal level, the Biden administration has taken steps to reverse some of the previous administration’s policies, such as the ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Overall, the decision by the Kansas City Council to make the city a sanctuary for transgender individuals seeking gender-affirming care sends a strong message of support to the transgender and LGBTQ+ communities, and reflects a growing movement of cities and states standing up for transgender rights in the face of hostility.