KS House passes ban on trans women in female spaces, labels intersex people as disabled
Written by BY JENNA BARACKMAN
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The Kansas House approved a bill which would bar transgender from entering single-sex spaces such as domestic violence shelters, bathrooms and prison wards.
The “Women’s Bill of Rights” passed the House 83 to 41. The Senate must review the House’s changes to the bill before it can head to Gov. Laura Kelly. Kelly, a Democrat, has been critical of the Legislature’s targeting of the transgender community this session and previously vetoed a bill banning transgender athletes from women’s sports.
Aphra Maria Karaya, a 27-year-old Wyandotte County transgender woman, said this bill contextualized within a wave of anti-trans legislation shows the Legislature deems transgender people “acceptable sacrifices” when pursuing an agenda of “moral purity.”
She said the legislation would lead to increased rates of suicide, self-harm, violence and turmoil within the transgender community due to lawmakers’ continued “othering” of transgender people.
A 2020 study by the National Library of Medicine found that 82% of transgender individuals have considered suicide and an additional 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide, with increased rates in transgender youth.
“It’s going to lead to children dying and that death is going to be on their hands,” she said. “It’s not going to be anywhere else. It rests squarely on the legislatures’ hands.”
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican, said the bill strictly defines male and female and does not mention transgender people. She said the bill aims to “ensure that our current protections for women’s spaces are not eroded by courts or unaccountable executive actions.”
“We talk about rights,” she said. “What’s the rights of a woman? You’re saying I have no more rights. I can’t go into a woman’s bathroom and know that a male will not walk into that bathroom. What about my rights? What about my comfort zone?”
The vote largely split along party lines, but two freshman Democrats, Kansas City Rep. Marvin Robinson and Rep. Ford Carr, joined majority Republicans in passing the bill. Three Republicans, Reps. Mark Schreiber of Emporia, Jesse Borjon of Topeka and David Younger of Ulysses voted against the bill.
Iridescent Riffel, a graduate student at the University of Kansas who is transgender, said the legislation reflects a misunderstanding of transgender people and arises from a national effort to crack down on their identity.
“It tells trans people we aren’t welcome, we’re not cared about, we’re not valued and that Kansas is not a safe place for us to live,” she said.
Karaya said that trans women are women who deserve protections rather than restrictions on what spaces they are allowed to enter.
“I don’t care what this law says,” Karaya said. “I’m still going to be going into women’s restrooms and all women’s spaces because that’s exactly what I am.”
CHANGES TO BILL WOULD DEFINE INTERSEX PEOPLE AS DISABLED
The original bill, which defined sex based on the presence of ova in females and the ability to fertilize ova in males, included no provisions for individuals who did not fit within the sex binary, making the bill’s consequences for intersex people unclear.
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