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Gov. Parson signs 2 bills into law covering sports participation, gender transition for minors

Protests in Jefferson City
Posted at 12:22 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 13:30:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday he has signed two bills he believes “protect the integrity of female sports and Missouri children from potentially harmful experimental surgeries and treatment.”

Opponents of the legislation say the bills attack members of the transgender community.

In a release announcing the signing of Senate bills 39 and 49, the governor focused on preventing “biological men” from participating in girls' and women’s sports.

“Women and girls deserve and have fought for an equal opportunity to succeed, and with this legislation today, we stand up to the nonsense and stand with them as they take back their sports competitions,” Parson said. “In Missouri, we support real fairness, not injustice disguised as social righteousness.”

Reaction to the governor's signature could come quickly.

RELATED | Trans leaders say bills in Kansas, Missouri targeting LGBTQ community are creating problem that doesn’t exist

Members of Kansas City’s LGBTQ+ community are scheduled to host a trans town hallfrom 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, 3700 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.

Previously, in March, members of Kansas City’s LGBTQ+ community trekked to Jefferson City in protest of the legislation.

“It’s just an increased risk of just going out and being trans,” Quinn Wake told KSHB 41 reporter Leslie DelasBour.

Missouri House of Representatives Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D - Springfield) described the legislation as "persecuting transgender children."

"The governor could have said 'no' to bigotry and hate," Quade said in a statement. "Instead, he embraced it. History tends to reflect poorly on oppression and the oppressors, and the stain of this action will not wash away."

Senate Bill 39 was championed by Missouri Sen. Holly Rehder (R-SE Missouri).

“I believe allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports threatens many of the gains brought about by Title IX,” Rehder said earlier this year.

In Wednesday’s release, the governor thanked Rehder for her work.

“We appreciate Sen. Rehder for leading on this issue and fighting for women and girls across the state,” Parson said.

Fellow Missouri Sen. Mike Moon (R-SW Missouri) was credited by the governor for his work on passing Senate Bill 49.

“We thank Sen. Moon for working to pass SB 49 to protect Missouri children from harmful, irreversible treatments and procedures,” Parson said.

In March, Caitlin Jordan, a licensed professional counselor who works with transgender adults and youths, said the bills could do more harm than good.

“Those are decisions made between kids and their parents, and those parents and those medical professionals and mental health professions,” Jordan told KSHB 41. “This isn’t something that should be regulated on a government level.”

Officially referred to as the “SAFE Act,” SB 49 also prohibits the state’s Medicaid program from paying for gender transition surgeries, hormones or other drugs as part of the gender transitioning process. Elective gender transition surgeries would also be prohibited from state funding for inmates in the state’s correctional facilities.

“We support everyone’s right to his or her own pursuit of happiness; however, we must protect children from making life-altering decisions that they could come to regret in adulthood once they have physically and emotionally matured,” Parson said.

Enforcement of the pieces of legislation, especially in Kansas City, Missouri, remain in question.

After legislators passed the bills and sent them to Parson’s desk for a signature, the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council passed a resolution declaring the city as a “safe-haven” for the transgender community.

On the same day, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker released a statement in support of the council’s resolution.

"We will continue to take all legal and appropriate steps under Missouri Law to protect trans people, who are increasingly targeted for violence and exploitation," Peters Baker said. "Rather than focusing on criminalizing trans individuals, the criminal justice system should seek to protect them.”

Also last month, Kansas City, Missouri Chief of Police Stacey Graves released a statement saying that the department believed enforcement of the legislation would be a civil matter, and as a result, police wouldn’t be involved.

That statement drew the ire of Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who wrote a letter to Graves’ bosses at the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners.

“As Missouri’s top legal officer, I will take any legal action necessary against the City to ensure our state laws are enforced,” Bailey said in the letter.

Earlier this year, Bailey implemented an "emergency rule" that would have required adults and children to undergo more than a year of therapy and fulfill other requirements before they could receive gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers, hormones and surgery.

But that emergency rule suddenly disappeared from the Missouri Secretary of State's website on May 16.