St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones moved to make St. Louis a more inclusive space for trans residents today.
An executive order signed by Jones requires key city departments to implement new gender-inclusive practices in light of anti-trans legislation passing through the state legislature.
Last month, the Missouri legislature passed bills that restricted transgender minors from gender-affirming care and kept them from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity. Those were just two of 48 different anti-LGBTQ measures filed last session — and part of what made Missouri the state with the most anti-LGBTQ bills in the country last session.
“I’ve heard from trans youth and their families who feel like hateful attacks from Jefferson City will force them to leave our state,” Jones said in a statement. “This order sends the message that St. Louis will fight to protect our trans community in the face of bigotry.”
Jones’ order requires city administration buildings to have at least one all-gender bathroom and blocks city-supported sports programs from operating in a way that is not gender-affirming.
Currently, anyone who registers for a sports program via the city’s Recreation Division's website has to disclose their gender, but the only options are male or female. Disclosing gender will no no longer be a requirement.
The executive order also requires the Department of Health to disseminate information on how city residents, including youth, can access gender-affirming care.
Jones’ order is a direct rebuttal to the Missouri General Assembly’s attempt to restrict trans youth from sports and gender-affirming care, which is described in the order as “hateful persecution of vulnerable children through government overreach.”
The mayor conferred with the city’s LGBTQIA Advisory Board to draft the order, according to Shira Berkowitz, one of the board’s nine members.
“The advisory board was able to prioritize and make sure that these are meetable needs and that every piece of the executive order has a place where it can be enforced and provided with access,” Berkowitz tells the RFT.
St. Louis follows several Democratic cities in predominantly Republican states that have taken similar actions to combat anti-trans legislation. The city’s also following in the footsteps of what St. Louis County Executive Sam Page did about two years ago when he ordered about 300 single-stall bathrooms in county government buildings to be designated as gender neutral.
Kansas City Council approved a resolution in May to declare Kansas City a “sanctuary city,” saying the city will not fine a person or organization that seeks or provides gender-affirming care or enforce violations should the state pass a law that would impose punishments.
Berkowitz, who is also the senior policy director for PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, says the organization is ecstatic to see mayors stepping up.
“We’re thrilled that there’s a wide number of cities supporting transgender Missourians and taking significant stands to condemn legislation that the governor may still sign into law,” Berkowitz says.Subscribe to Riverfront Times newsletters.
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