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Editorial Collection: Kansas

Kansas City star. February 17, 2023.

Editorial: There’s a reason lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri are attacking trans children right now

It’s Anti-Transgender Week in the Kansas Legislature. Lawmakers are holding hearings on three bills aimed at ostracizing the state’s transgender residents.

The first was HB2238, which received a public hearing in the House Education Committee on Monday. It would require students in public high schools and universities to play sports associated with their “biological sex,” at least if male. In other words, no one who transitioned into women would be allowed to play in the women’s leagues. Oddly, lawmakers are less concerned about athletes identified as female at birth who play men’s sports.

No major threat to Kansas justifies the fanaticism disguised as protection of young female athletes. According to testimony at Monday’s hearing, there are only two girls registered with the Kansas State High School Activities Association to which the bill could apply. If they were out there breaking records, as one speaker noted at the hearing, that would be front page news.

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Supporters don’t care. It is possible that a young athlete born female may one day fail to play because someone who was identified as male at birth takes a spot on a team. They point to isolated incidents in remote states.

These incidents are real and there are nuances to the matter, but it’s not the Kansas legislature’s job to fix them. KSHSAA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the International Olympic Committee and other organizations that oversee athletics are already grappling with how to maintain fair competition among transgender athletes. They are the experts and they are adapting. They don’t need the meddling of legislators.

The cost of such interference is high. Bills like this send a powerful and dire message to Kansan youth struggling with their gender identity: You are not welcome to fully participate in your state.

Briana McGeough, an LGBTQ mental health expert at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare who specializes in working with LGBTQ youth, testified Monday: ‘This bill has the potential to harm transgender youth who aren’t even interested to participate in sports because it serves to codify stigma and discrimination against transgender people.These types of bills in other contexts have been linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and (suicide risk) among transgender people.

The Kansas Division of Budget in its fiscal analysis of the bill warns of other problems. There would almost certainly be a lawsuit that sucked up state resources. The NCAA may choose not to host events in Kansas.

The bill sends a message: Don’t come to Kansas unless you conform to our antiquated and scientifically invalidated views on gender.

To complete the futility, Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a similar bill last year. The legislature did not have the votes to override her veto.


Two other anti-transgender bills have hearings this week. SB233 would allow Kansans to sue physicians who provide gender-affirming medical treatments and revoke those physicians’ medical licenses. SB180 would require public agencies to identify individuals based only on their “biological sex, male or female, at birth.”

This isn’t just an anti-transgender week in Topeka. Conservative Kansas lawmakers will be bashing the state’s LGBTQ residents for months with a half-dozen anti-LGBTQ bills targeting drag shows (SB201 and SB149), students’ personal choice of their pronouns (SB207), and more.

Nor is bigotry limited to Kansas. Lawmakers in Missouri and Oklahoma are considering dozens of their own anti-LGBTQ laws. In fact, Missouri lawmakers are hoping to unite Florida with arguably the toughest “Don’t Say Gay” bill yet. One could almost suspect that there is a coordinated national attempt to create hysteria among Republican voters over an LGBTQ bogeyman.

At the October 2017 Values ​​Voter Summit, an annual strategy session of the arch-anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, activist Meg Kilgannon outlined a “divide and conquer” strategy to strike at the rights of transgender Americans. “For all its recent success, the LGBT alliance is actually fragile,” she told conference attendees, “and trans activists need the gay rights movement to help legitimize them. Gender identity alone is just a bridge too far. If you separate the T from the alphabet soup, we will be more successful.

Anti-LGBTQ laws introduced in nearly every state legislature have striking similarities. Most won’t pass, although states like Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have a better chance given the partisan makeup of those legislatures. They are part of a national push to dampen fear of non-existent threats and to marginalize a vulnerable community. Surely lawmakers have a more important job to do.

Topeka Capital Journal. February 17, 2023.

Editorial: Kansas Legislature Won’t Stop Trying to Legislate Transgender People

Transgender people exist and deserve to be treated with dignity. They shouldn’t be legislated away.

However, in the Kansas Statehouse, there was a lot of hand-wringing, pearl-clenching, teeth-gritting, arguing, and, frankly, wasted time trying to do it.

In the last two legislative sessions a bill that would ban transgender female athletes in women’s sports was sent to Governor Laura Kelly’s desk and then promptly vetoed.

Derek Schmidt used the topic as a campaign issue when he tried to run for governor last election cycle — and Kansans told him what they thought at the polls.

Did you know that the Kansas State High School Activities Association reported only two transgender youth in after-school activities this year?

Not content to stop there, lawmakers are considering a series of bills that will limit the rights of transgender people.

Andrew Bahl of the Topeka Capital-Journal reports that lawmakers are considering a gender-affirming child care ban, which includes the procedures and therapies transgender people deem vital to improving their health and well-being.

Last month we discussed the ethical dilemmas such legislation could cause for healthcare professionals and their patients. We still believe that lawmakers should leave the regulation of health care to health professionals.

In addition, a bill that caps local anti-discrimination ordinances and a so-called “women’s rights bill” that prevents state agencies from recognizing a person as anything other than her biological gender are under consideration.

Perhaps that time could be better spent discussing real issues affecting education and health care?

Our leaders should be discussing healthcare reform. How can we make it convenient and accessible for all Kansans?

If they want to talk about schools, let’s talk about making sure they’re adequately funded.

What we don’t want to do is discuss where a person belongs in society. It’s self-defeating, deeply cynical, and demonstrates a profound lack of empathy for others.

Kansas transgenders are our friends, neighbors, children and grandchildren. I am not a monolith. They are living, breathing people with wants and needs, hopes and dreams. We cannot lose sight of it. These Kansans deserve better from us and our leaders.

Regulating their existence won’t make Kansas a better place. It will make it a more complicated environment for people to survive, let alone thrive in.

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