Effort to help Kansans change gender markers comes ahead of new law
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - On July 1, Kansas will impose a new law with a strict definition of biological sex. That will ban transgender people from using female bathrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters and other single-sex spaces. The bill, Senate Bill 180, is called “The Women’s Bill of Rights” by supporters who say it will provide women and girls with safety and privacy.
Groups providing support to transgender people are trying to do what they can before the law takes effect. This past month, Ellen Bertels of Kansas Legal Services has been making her way across the state.
“The main thing that I can do to serve my clients and serve trans Kansans is to try to assist with their gender marker changes on state-issued IDs,” she said. “It’s clear from SB 180 text that those are at least at risk as of July 1.
Bertels runs The Kansas Name Change Project and says there have been hundreds of requests through email and clinics hosted in Kansas for gender marker changes. She said having an ID matching someone’s gender reflects who they are, but also impacts them any time their ID is requested, like during a traffic stop.
“If the gender marker that’s on that ID doesn’t reflect how you present that day, if the name reflects a gender that doesn’t look like who you are that day, they’re going to say, ‘this isn’t your ID,’” Bertels said.
M-Care Healthcare in Wichita is working with Bertels to support trans and non-binary people with this process. Amanda Mogoi with M-Care Healthcare said she’s seeing a lot of people scared by what the new law could mean.
“They really have to reconsider what their whole life looks like,” she said. “Do they move out of state? Do they need to find a new job? Are they going to be safe to even go into the bathroom?”
Mogoi said wondering about those questions is having other impacts.
“We’ve had a big increase in the people that are suffering with some mental distress due to these recent rules and law changes,” she said.
Bertels said changing gender markers requires a lot of paperwork and documents and once submitted, can take three to four weeks for the IDs to be returned. She said an issue with the bill taking effect this summer is that it’s unclear what it can do once it takes effect as it doesn’t include any specifics on criminal or civil enforcement and doesn’t create a new crime or set finds. So, it could be left to interpretation.
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