TOPEKA – Heather Meyer cried on Monday as she talked about her transgender child, who is in middle school and identifies as genderfluid.
He testified before a House jury considering another attempt to ban transgender athletes from participating in school sports, a ban that would apply to only two Kansas public school students.
“I have this crushing weight on me because this is not just my child, but thousands of children,” Meyer said. “We are just legislating about their rights and freedoms and their ability to live a happy life. All they want to do is exist, and for some reason members of the Legislature don’t want that to happen.
House Democrats said the hearing marked the start of “hate week,” a reference to planned discussions of multiple bills attacking the LGBTQ community in Kansas.
The lineup of the “hate week”.
House Bill 2238, which had a hearing Monday, would bar transgender girls from playing women’s sports at the K-12 and college levels. Senate Bill 12 would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender people age 21 and younger.
Senate Bill 233, expected to be heard on Tuesday, would revoke the licenses of doctors who perform gender reassignment surgery for people under the age of 18. civil lawsuit against the doctor who performed the surgery.
House Bill 2376, which is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, would ban city or county nondiscrimination ordinances that are more restrictive than state law, which does not include LGBTQ protections.
Senate Bill 149, which would ban drag performances for minors, is not yet under discussion.
Senate Bill 180, due to be heard Wednesday, would create a “women’s bill of rights” that would segregate spaces based on biological reproductive abilities, meaning transgender women would not be allowed in areas designated by women in violence shelters maid, rape crisis centers, locker rooms or toilets.
During a press conference on Monday, House Democrats said they would prioritize LGBTQ rights. Representative Susan Ruiz, a Shawnee Democrat, said she has lost respect for her Senate colleagues. Ruiz said Senate Speaker Ty Masterson is intolerant.
“The Senate president is very, very, very anti-LGBT, very anti-trans,” Ruiz said. “They don’t care if kids kill themselves because of any of these laws that we’re proposing. And if he thinks the kids aren’t listening, he’s so wrong. The children are listening.”
Fairness in sport
During a Monday House Education Committee hearing on House Bill 2238, which would create “equity in women’s sporting act” if enacted, lawmakers, parents, college students and others stood to testify about the harmful impact that the legislation would have.
The bill stipulates that student athletic teams from kindergarten through college include only cisgender girls or women. Under the bill, no government agency, athletic association or organization could take action against public education institutions to keep athletic teams or sports segregated by gender.
Another part of the bill states that students who have been harmed or deprived of athletic opportunities because their team or sport is not limited to cisgender women would have a legal right to seek compensation.
According to the Kansas State High School Activities Association, only two transgender youth in the state would be affected by the legislation.
Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, a Democrat from Prairie Village, said the bill was extremely limited in scope.
“It’s terrible and evil,” Stogsdill said. “It’s obnoxious, it’s unnecessary, it’s a political attempt to play the lowest common denominator in the Republican Party.”
Committee chairman Rep. Adam Thomas, an Olathe Republican, said the legislation is meant to safeguard future transgender athletes. Legislation, he said, will be needed with “the way the nation is moving with all of this.”
Thomas said the bill would protect Kansas daughters and women’s sports in the state.
“I know a lot of women who are probably struggling with suicide because they’re losing scholarships, they’re losing opportunities,” Thomas said.
Meyer said the week’s legislation, including the sports-ban bill, is meant to wear down Democrats in the legislature.
“They’re trying to burn us,” Meyer said.