Transgender Kansans will be barred from single-sex spaces inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth after Kansas became the first state in the nation to pass a sweeping new law over Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto. The Republican-controlled Kansas House, mostly along party lines, voted Thursday to override the Democratic governor by a vote of 84 to 41 to enact the “women’s bill of rights.” The Senate, also under GOP control, voted to override Kelly 28-12 the previous day. The new law, which takes effect in July, will impact a wide array of services for transgender and nonbinary Kansans. For example, people will no longer be able to change their driver’s license to align with their gender identity. Some opponents of the law emphasized that transgender residents can still seek new documents for the next two months, but suggested the new restrictions will face a legal challenge.
The bill, which Lenexa Democratic Rep. Brandon Woodard called the most extreme anti-trans legislation in the country, defines man and woman in state statute based solely upon reproductive capability and explains the state has an interest in protecting spaces designated for women. “Kansans aren’t crazy, and yet here we are with the most extreme bill in the entire country,” he said. The bill has been pushed by the Independent Women’s Law Center and comes amid a national wave of bills regulating the rights and lives of transgender Americans. The center and its allies have said the bill is aimed at preventing judges from forcing single-sex spaces to be abolished or to admit people who were not assigned that gender at birth.
With the passage of the law, the Kansas City area now occupies a new national epicenter in the push to regulate the lives of transgender individuals. Republicans across the country have sought to advance measures aimed at transgender rights, but the Kansas City metro straddles two states where those efforts are particularly aggressive and advanced. On one side of the state line, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is attempting to effectively ban gender-affirming care for children and adults through an emergency rule. The regulation is on pause until at least Monday while a judge considers whether to block the rule. On the other side, transgender Kansans say they believe the new law is designed to functionally erase their identities in society.
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