Kansas lawmakers impose sweeping anti-transgender bathroom law

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Republican lawmakers in Kansas have enacted what could be most sweeping transgender bathroom law in the US on Thursday, overriding the Democratic governor’s veto of the measure without a clear idea of ​​how his new law will be enforced.

The House vote was 84-40, giving supporters exactly the two-thirds majority they needed to overturn Gov. Laura Kelly’s action. The vote in the Senate on Wednesday was 28-12, and the new law will enter into force on July 1.

At least eight other states have enacted laws preventing transgender people from using bathrooms associated with their gender identities, but most apply to schools. Kansas law also applies to locker rooms, prisons, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis centers.

Kansas law is different from the laws of most other states in that it legally defines male and female based on a person’s reproductive anatomy at birth and states that «distinctions between the sexes» in bathrooms and other spaces meet “important government goals to protect health, safety, and privacy.” Earlier this week, North Dakota enacted a law that prohibits transgender children and adults from accessing bathrooms, locker rooms, or showers in college dormitories and state correctional facilities.

Kansas law does not create a new crime, impose criminal penalties or fines for violations, or even specifically say that a person has the right to sue a transgender person who uses a facility aligned with their gender identity. Many supporters acknowledged before it happened that they had not considered how it would be run.

The bill is worded broadly enough to apply to any space separated for men and women and, Kelly’s office said, could prevent transgender women from participating in state programs for women, including hunters and farmers. As written, it also prevents transgender people from changing the gender markers on their driver’s licenses, though it was unclear if that change would happen without a lawsuit.

Critics of the new law believe it is an attempt to legally erase transgender people while simultaneously refusing to recognize gender fluid, gender non-conforming and non-binary people. They argued that the bill’s vagueness will lead to harassment of transgender people.

Kansas law does not create a new crime, impose criminal penalties or fines for violations, or even specifically say that a person has the right to sue a transgender person who uses a facility aligned with their gender identity. Many supporters acknowledged before it happened that they had not considered how it would be run.

The bill is worded broadly enough to apply to any space separated for men and women and, Kelly’s office said, could prevent transgender women from participating in state programs for women, including hunters and farmers. As written, it also prevents transgender people from changing the gender markers on their driver’s licenses, though it was unclear if that change would happen without a lawsuit.

Critics of the new law believe it is an attempt to legally erase transgender people while simultaneously refusing to recognize gender fluid, gender non-conforming and non-binary people. They argued that the bill’s vagueness will lead to harassment of transgender people.

“The lack of clarity is by design because it allows them to reject the worst possible interpretation and at the same time allow the worst possible outcome to happen,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, which opposed the law. .

The new law is part of a big push by Republicans in the US to roll back LGBTQ+ rights, particularly the rights of transgender people. At least 21 states, including Kansas, restrict or ban transgender female athletes from participating in women’s and women’s sports, and at least 14, except Kansas, have restricted or banned gender-affirming care for minors.

Supporters of the Kansas bathroom bill argue that they are responding to people’s concerns about transgender women sharing bathrooms, locker rooms and other spaces with cisgender women and girls.

“We want to be safe,” said state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican and chair of the House health committee.

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