Roeland Park adopts gender transition policy in contrast to Kansas' new anti-trans laws
A new Kansas law is set to take effect July 1 that ties the state’s legal definitions of male, female, man and woman to a person’s sex assigned at birth. Roeland Park's new policy specifies that city employees can use restrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity.
The Roeland Park City Council last week unanimously approved adding a gender transition policy to the city’s employee handbook.
The council’s action came as a new state law is set to take effect July 1 that ties the state’s legal definitions of male, female, man and woman to a person’s sex assigned at birth.
The law defines women as people whose reproductive systems produce ova and men as people whose reproductive systems fertilize ova.
Conservative state legislators enacted the law and another law that prohibits trans women and girls from playing on women’s and girls’ sports teams by overriding vetoes by Gov. Laura Kelly.
Roeland Park Mayor Michael Poppa said the new policy will officially become part of the employee handbook by July 1.
Councilmembers Benjamin Dickens of Ward 2 and Trisha Brauer of Ward 3 were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
A move to protect trans workers
Poppa said the “most egregious” of at least five “anti-trans bills” the Kansas Legislature had passed this session was Senate Bill 180, which puts “a harmful and reductive definition of sex and gender into state statute,” defining a woman as “nothing more than a vessel for procreation.”
“We’re reaffirming our commitment to diversity and equity, and we’re taking concrete steps to protect the transgender members of our community,” he said. “It’s really important for every community, not just Roeland Park.
“We were the first city in Johnson County to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance (in 2014). … Plus, with the way employment is right now — it’s hard to find and retain employees — we shouldn’t be turning people away and making them leave the state. We should be welcoming them in.”
Asked how the new state law will affect the city’s gender transition policy, Poppa said the city’s legal counsel’s opinion was that although the state law recognizes separate accommodations, “it does not provide any right of action, it doesn’t create a crime and it does not impose penalties for noncompliance.”
Workers can use restrooms matching their gender identity
While transgender people using restrooms or locker rooms of the sex they’ve transitioned to is a controversial subject, Poppa said “this is about so much more than just restrooms.”
“This is about rape crisis centers,” he said. “This is about homeless shelters. SB 180 pertains to any type of sex-segregated facilities or activities. It’s basically their end run to banning people from using restrooms.
“My thought about bathroom bans is that people use the restroom for one thing. It shouldn’t be a public display anyway. You go into the bathroom expecting privacy. Personally, I still don’t understand what the Kansas Legislature’s fascination with genitalia is after all these years, because that’s what they’re focusing on.”
Below is one excerpt of the policy, which ensures city employees can use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
“Employees are permitted to use facilities (restrooms, locker rooms, etc.) that correspond with their gender identity. Each employee makes the decision of which facilities are appropriate for them. No documentation is required to access facilities. Any employee who has a need or desire for additional privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, can make use of alternative arrangements, such as single-occupancy restrooms, private areas for changing, a different time to use the locker rooms, or other alternatives, where possible.”
Here’s a link to the draft version of the city’s employee handbook including the section on gender transition. The guidelines begin on page 17.
This story was originally published by the Shawnee Mission Post.