St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones on Thursday signed an executive order seeking to insulate transgender Missourians from bills passed by the Legislature restricting access to certain medical procedures for minors and limiting participation in school sports.
"The responsibility now falls to local governments to take tangible steps to respond to this state intrusion into private family medical decisions and minors' bodily privacy," she wrote in a letter to the city's legislative delegation earlier in the day notifying them of her planned order.
Missouri lawmakers passed bills earlier this month banning minors from beginning gender-affirming hormones or puberty blockers for four years, starting in August, and restricting transgender athletes to competing on teams as their birth sex. Both bills await action by Gov. Mike Parson, who has indicated he intends to sign them into law.
Jones' order calls the bills "an abhorrent intrusion into personal freedom and liberty."
She wrote that her executive order was crafted after "conversation and consultation with members of the LGBTQ+ community and our city departments" and expressed concern for families moving out of state because of state legislation.
The order calls for the city Department of Health to inform residents, including minors, about gender-affirming care. Jones plans for an annual "summit of health care providers and other individuals" to discuss the best practices for transgender health care.
It also allows transgender athletes in city-funded recreation programs to compete according to their gender identity, for she states that these programs must not require the disclosure of gender or one's gender-affirming hormone treatment. The Missouri State High School Activities Association policy currently allows transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity only if they have been taking cross-sex hormones.
City recreation centers would also have at least one all-gender restroom under her order, and staff would receive training on "affirming best practices."
Buildings housing city administration are ordered to also have at least one all-gender restroom, and the city departments are directed to administer their services in a gender-affirming manner.
Jones prioritizes economic development in the order, stating future projects must support gender inclusivity.
She requests that the St. Louis Development Corp. advise how to incentivize inclusive business practices.
"All of our children in St. Louis deserve to know that there are still elected leaders out here fighting for them," Susan Halla, president of transgender advocacy group TransParent, said in a news release. "I am grateful to Mayor Jones for instituting these important changes in the face of recent attacks on trans youth from the Missouri legislature. For our trans youth, please know that you are seen and you are loved for who you are."
Earlier this month, the Kansas City council resolved the city would be a "safe haven" for gender-affirming care. The resolution directs city staff, including law enforcement, from penalizing those seeking gender-affirming care or providing it.
Attorney General Andrew Bailey called the city council's actions "unprecedented and radical" in a letter to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. In it, he urged the board to make sure police enforce the new law when it goes into effect.
The bill does not have criminal penalties for those who seek care, so it is outside the police's enforcement, Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said in a statement to the Kansas City Star.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, told the Independent he was proud to be a St. Louis resident after the mayor signed her order.
"Government should be supporting folks' access to quality medical care, not interfering with our private medical decisions," he said. "Our leaders should be fighting for all kids to be included in activities like sports and have an opportunity to succeed -- not bullying kids who are too often already bullied and left out."
The Missouri Independent, www.missouriindependent.com, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering state government and its impact on Missourians.