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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

Amid challenges to gender-affirming care, 'people are frightened, and they don't know what to expect.'

 A family at the "Protest for Trans Rights" organized by PROMO on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Missouri state capital.
Rebecca Smith
/
KBIA
A family at the "Protest for Trans Rights" organized by PROMO on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Missouri state capital.

Right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty around gender-affirming care in Missouri. There’s pending bans from the Attorney General’s office and bills being considered in both the Missouri House and Senate

Even the governor has made it a top priority – threatening a special session if the bills are not passed by the end of this year's legislative session – Friday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m.

KBIA’s Briana Heaney sat down with Ryan Fischer from PROMO, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization about how this is impacting trans Missourians.

"Places like Springfield, and Cape Girardeau, where we know that rural populations really struggle. Many people in those areas are unable to leave their current city because they just don't have the privilege or the means to do so."
Ryan Fischer

Briana Heaney: What are some of the things that you're hearing from the trans community around the state?

Ryan Fischer: People are scared, people are frightened, and they don't know what to expect. Parents of trans kids are trying to begin to lay out, you know, really multi-stepped plans if care should be taken away, which might include them leaving the state.

Trans leaders that are part of, you know, trans women of color communities, are specifically worried about the violence and, uh, you know, hateful attacks that we know they face on a regular basis. The rhetoric alone will only increase the violence toward their community.

Heaney: Why now?

Fischer: You know, we've seen that these attacks started probably about like four, I want to say, I believe, like four years ago in Missouri, but we're really seeing like a ramp up of those conversations as we get towards another election cycle.

And politicians don't have shame in using a trans person or a trans body, you know, to be able to go home to their constituents and say, “I kicked a trans kid.”

And that's really what this is about, you know, for instance— there was, I believe, three health care bans that they were talking about with three different authors.

And they combined them into one, but each one of those bill authors, specifically said that they wanted to have their name on the bill, so that they can back go back to their base and say, "No, I did this," and that's really telling, you know, that's really telling.

Heaney: Will this be a catalyst for trans people who have the privileged access and means to do so to leave the state?

Fischer: I think that there is definitely, there is already conversations, you know, for many people within the community that have the ability to leave that are seeking to leave, because it is such a scary time.

Heaney: Where will that leave the most vulnerable who might not have that option?

Fischer: And that's one thing that we have heard from the community in general, we've heard their concerns. Because we've gone to places like Joplin, we've gone to places like Springfield, and Cape Girardeau, where we know that rural populations really struggle.

And many people in those areas are unable to leave their current city because they just don't have the privilege or the means to do so.

And what we have tried to help with those communities and also empower those communities to do, is to begin to develop resources within their own communities, to be able to protect themselves from things that are happening within the state legislature.

Heaney: Later this week, I'll be meeting with senators who have authored this bill and supported this bill. And one of my questions for them will be Do you know anyone personally, who is transgender? Why is that an important question for me to ask?

Fischer: It's actually an incredibly important question. I'm really happy that you're actually asking that question to them, because we have seen within committee hearings, within floor debates, that the individuals who are bringing this legislation forward are remaining willfully ignorant to the trans community.

Briana Heaney is a senior at the University of Missouri’s journalism school studying cross-platform editing and producing and minoring in economics.
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