JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri (AP) — Missouri lawmakers passed two bills Wednesday that would ban gender-equal health care for minors and bar transgender girls and women from participating in female athletic teams. But Kansas City was preparing to defy the state, and the city council should vote on creating a sanctuary for people seeking gender equality.
Transgender minors in Missouri would no longer have access to puberty blockers, hormones or gender-confirming surgeries under a law passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives. The ban affects some adults — Medicaid health care does not cover gender-sensitive care in the state, and surgical procedures are no longer available to prisoners and inmates.
Another bill would ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s teams from kindergarten through college, in both public and private schools. Schools that allow transgender girls and women to play on such teams would lose government funding.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign both bills into law, which would expire in 2027 thanks to concessions Republicans made in negotiations with Senate Democrats.
Democrats wept during the debate in the House of Representatives.
“To deny these children the care is to deny them their existence,” said Rep. Joe Adams.
The Missouri ACLU said the two actions amounted to “arming the government.”
Missouri’s bans come amid a national push by conservatives to impose restrictions on transgender and non-binary people, which has become a key issue at this year’s state legislative sessions, along with abortion.
“When children are being surgically or chemically altered throughout their lives for no good reason, then it’s time for the government to step in,” Republican Representative Brad Hudson told colleagues in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The governor threatened to do it Keep the legislature busy beyond the normal end of their session if they did not agree to the gender grooming ban, which would take effect on August 28. The ban provides exceptions for minors who are already receiving such treatments.
Republican Rep. Chris Sander, who is gay, said he was considering leaving his party after most of his GOP peers voted in favor of the bills without allowing him to oppose it in the House of Representatives.
“It’s not a partisan thing to be gay or transgender,” Sander, who represents the Kansas City suburb of Lone Jack, told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat. They want to make it partisan by opening my lips.”
After the bills were approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, a Kansas City City Council committee opened a hearing on a resolution to designate the city as a haven for people seeking or providing gender-sensitive care.
Proponents acknowledged that the city could face retaliation from the state.
But councilor Melissa Robinson said: “I believe in good troubles and this might just be one of those kinds of good troubles.”
The committee approved the resolution and forwarded it to the full council, which plans to consider it on Thursday.
The proposed resolution said the city would not prosecute or penalize any person or entity that seeks, provides, receives, or assists in obtaining gender-specific treatments such as puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery. It also said city staff will make enforcing gender-sensitive care requirements “their lowest priority.”
“It would minimize legal violence against trans people in accessing gender-based care,” Merrique Jenson, a transgender woman and founder of a nonprofit that advocates for trans women of color, told the council committee.
At least 16 states have now passed legislation restricting or prohibiting sex-based child care, and several states are considering legislation later this year to restrict or prohibit child care. create uncertainty for many families. Florida and Texas have prohibited or restricted grooming by regulation or governmental order, and a Care Restriction Bill lies on the desk of Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
At least 21 other states have enacted restrictions on transgender athletes’ participation in sports.
Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who is currently running for the 2024 election, launched an investigation into Washington University’s Transgender Center in St. Louis in February. A former employee had complained that doctors were prescribing hormones too quickly and without adequate comprehensive mental health care. An internal review by Washington University found no malpractice.
Since then, Bailey has expanded his investigation to include every clinic in Missouri that offers pediatric gender-affirming care required records from a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, where doctors provide such healthcare.
In April, Bailey took the new step impose restrictions for both adults and children under the Missouri Consumer Protection Act. A judge has temporarily blocked the restrictions from taking effect as she considers a legal challenge.
Hanna reported from Topeka, Kansas. Margaret Stafford of Kansas City, Missouri also contributed.