April 4, 2022

With Republicans pushing hateful legislation all across the country, it can feel overwhelming to keep track of all that’s going on. Especially so when we consider that some states are pushing multiple bills of attack at once, like targeting both trans youth in sports and trans youth who want to access safe, age-appropriate, gender-affirming health care. Then there’s the banned book approach, where Republicans are working hard to get books by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ people pulled from classrooms and libraries. In short, it’s a lot.

One state considering such anti-trans legislation that hasn’t gotten as much coverage is Missouri. Missouri has actually introduced more than a dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 alone. Of those, eight are specific to trans rights—or rather, a lack thereof. One of the most concerning bills is an anti-trans sports bill introduced by Republican state Sen. Mike Moon, which seeks to ban trans youth from accessing gender-affirming surgery. Mind you, most safe, age-appropriate gender-affirming care at this age is not surgery. It can include things like using the correct pronouns and names, hormonal therapies, and puberty blockers. Moon, like so many Republicans, is also pushing a bill to keep trans girls out of girls’ sports.

And what are trans folks in the state doing and saying? What about allies? Let’s check it all out below.

In a defense of this discriminatory legislation, Moon recently described surgeries done as part of gender-affirming health care as “irreversible harm” done to “satisfy a desire.” Again, surgeries are not commonly done on people under 18, but even if they were, this should be a medical decision between the patient and the physicians serving them based on science, not hysteria or personal opinion.

We already know gender-affirming care, like puberty blockers, can be lifesaving. There is no need to get people riled up about “irreversible harm,” just like there’s no real reason to get people worked up about trans kindergarteners playing sports. Because as conservatives are getting heated up about issues that don’t really exist, actual trans folks and allies are only getting more stressed about the future.

Trysta Herzog of Springfield, Missouri, spoke to Ozarks First in an interview, sharing that they have a young child who identifies as pangender, meaning they don’t identify as either male or female. Herzog said their heart breaks for their child, and that when it comes to your child being denied activities and opportunities, you want to fight it.

“You want to get up and use your voice,” Herzog stressed.

The anti-trans sports bill, SB 740, is one such example of people getting up and getting motivated to fight back in the state. Like comparable Republican measures, this one claims to be all about protecting women’s sports but is actually just an excuse to “out” other already marginalized trans youth. In this bill, for example, trans girls would not be allowed to participate in girls’ sports teams in either private or public middle and high schools.

Thankfully, students are fighting back. For instance, as reported by local outlet KCTV 5, a number of students from Liberty High School protested outside of their school on Thursday morning, holding signs that read rallying cries like, “Support trans kids.”

The students oppose the anti-trans sports bill, as well as HB 1474, which would ban teaching critical race theory (CRT) in schools. (Mind you, CRT isn’t even taught before college in most cases.

These conservatives just want to ban anything that isn’t whitewashed history.)These kids are heroes, but they shouldn’t have to be. They should be able to be out, proud, and visible without fear.

Kase Hohlt, who describes themselves as nonbinary trans masc, spoke to KMOV News 4 in an interview about these legislations as someone living in Missouri. Hohlt described the recent International Transgender Day of Visibility as a chance to “break down barriers” and live “out loud.”

Hohlt shared that they began gender-affirming care in 2019, including top surgery, which has helped them feel more at home in their body. Again: Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care. In reference to sports, Hohlt summed up a point I think is especially important: Where’s the humanity in making life even harder for kids who already tend to suffer?

“To wanna take away something like that from a kid,” Hohlt said to the outlet. “And make them feel even more ostracized, like where’s the humanity in that?”

Republicans, sadly, continue to show they couldn’t care less about humanity. That’s why it’s so important that progressives stay aligned and committed to the fight for trans inclusion, equality, and safety.

Published with permission of Daily Kos.

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