Ahead of an expected ban on gender-affirming care being signed into state law, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones has signed an executive order ensuring that the city adopts policies to support the transgender community.
Under the executive order, the city’s Department of Health will coordinate the “collection and dissemination” of “medically accurate” information on gender-affirming care, including how and where residents may access it — which may soon include seeking treatment outside of Missouri.
Additionally, the department and the mayor’s office will coordinate a summit of health care providers and other individuals to discuss best practices surrounding gender-affirming care for youth.
Even if physically accessing such care is soon outlawed, information about such treatments is a protected form of free speech.
The order also promises that St. Louis city departments will establish new inclusive practices to ensure transgender residents and workers are not discriminated against when interacting with city government.
According to The Center Square newswire, the city’s Board of Public Service will designate at least one bathroom in each government building as an “all-gender” or unisex restroom, and make a list of locations of those restrooms publicly available.
The order ensures that all sports leagues operated by city-funded recreation centers will allow all youth, regardless of identity, to participate in sports.
Youth shall not be required to disclose their gender or gender identity, or any gender-affirming medications they are taking, and all recreation centers will designate at least one restroom as a unisex restroom.
Lastly, the order seeks to “mitigate economic harm caused by recent state legislation by finding ways to accommodate transgender individuals through business opportunities.”
It requires the St. Louis Development Corporation to provide recommendations on how to incentivize businesses and future development projects to be more inclusive of transgender workers, and directs the city’s Agency on Training and Employment to ensure its career services programs are inclusive of transgender applicants and job-seekers.
The city’s current nondiscrimination ordinance already forbids discrimination in housing, employment, or public accommodations based on gender identity and expression.
“In St. Louis, everyone deserves to thrive, regardless of their gender identity or expression,” Jones said in a statement. “I’ve heard from trans youth and their families who feel like hateful attacks from Jefferson City Republicans will force them to leave our state. This order sends the message that St. Louis will fight to protect our trans community in the face of bigotry.”
Jones’s order won support from her fellow city politicians.
“By signing [the] executive order … [Mayor Jones] demonstrates our city’s commitment to gender-inclusivity and respect for transgender residents,” Board of Alderman President Megan Green tweeted. “Promoting gender-affirming practices in city operations is the first of many steps we must take to keep our trans community safe.”
The provisions expanding access to accurate information on gender-affirming care are in direct opposition to a recently passed bill, expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in the near future, that prohibits transgender-identifying minors from accessing gender-affirming treatments.
The bill also threatens physicians who prescribe such treatments with the suspension or loss of their license to practice, and allows disgruntled patients who later regret their transition to sue their former providers.
The proposed ban mirrors a host of other measures singling out the transgender or the larger LGBTQ communities, which have been introduced in other states with Republican-dominated legislatures as the GOP increasingly embraces culture-war issues in their quest for electoral dominance.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, nearly 500 bills targeting the transgender community have been introduced this year, with Missouri lawmakers introducing 48 of them — making the state second to only Texas, where lawmakers filed 53 similar bills, reports St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV.
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