Last December, the city council voted to approve a new Kansas City LGBTQ Commission to advise the council on decisions and policies that affect the LGBTQ community. It’s the first of its kind in Missouri.
“We have a group of extremely powerful and wonderful activists and advocates,” said Moon Glasgow-Brown, chair of the KC LGBTQ Commission. There are 13 commissioners working to develop inclusive policies. Five of the 12 commissioners are Black.
“I definitely think that this has been long overdue to create something that centers and uplifts the voices of communities that are most impacted: Black trans women, trans folks and queer women,” Glasgow-Brown said.
Although the commissioners just held their first meeting in May, they’re already at work supporting change. Currently, the commission has proposed getting rid of gendered bathrooms in city hall, while city officials are leaning toward adding a few gender-neutral bathrooms and maintain the balance of the city’s restrooms as gender specific.
While gender-neutral bathroom are often seen as most beneficial to transgender individuals – those who identify as a sexuality different from the one they were born with – other individuals can also benefit from gender-neutral bathrooms. As a prime example, parents who have children of a different sex can comfortably take their children to the bathroom with them. In addition, fathers can have access to diaper changing stations, which are typically in women’s restrooms and women, frustrated with long lines, may find the wait much shorter in gender-neutral restrooms.
Concerns that gender-neutral bathrooms are somehow unsafe have not been documented. Claims that inclusive bathrooms would encourage male predators to pretend to be transgender just long enough to assault women and children in a public bathroom is unsupported by fact.
In response to the city’s request to just add some gender-neutral bathrooms, Glasgow-Brown said, having separate gender-neutral bathrooms can potentially out someone as transgender, which defeats the purpose.
“The whole point to getting rid of gendered bathrooms and having gender-neutral bathrooms is so that folks could just feel safe going to the bathroom in general,” said Glasgow-Brown. “We’re trying to push back against that legislation, but any move in the right direction is worth something,” they said.
Another issue affecting Kansas City’s LGBTQ community that the commission is working to address is violence against transgender people.
In 2019, four Black transgender women were murdered in Kansas City and 24 were murdered in the United States. In 2020, at least 44 transgender women, almost all Black or Latinx, were murdered in the U.S.
Glasgow-Brown has seen the trend of Black transgender women, most of the time, killed by or violently victimized by Black men through their work. Glasgow-Brown co-founded Zeke’s Freedom Foundation, which provides spaces for Black LGBTQ healing and joy. They are also part of a collective of Black-led organizations called Freedom house, a meeting place for Black leaders engaged in movement work.
“There’s a huge disconnect with the Black community and Black LGBTQ individuals,” Glasgow-Brown said. “The conversation needs to start and I think folks need to be accountable, especially Black men. We need to be creating spaces for them to unpack this transphobia and homophobia and sexism.”
Glasgow-Brown said it’s important to have those conversations because most of the people leading monumental social justice movements have historically been Black transgender and queer women.
“We’re having to still continue to carry all of this work, and fight for a community that literally murders us,” Glasgow-Brown said. “While we’re at the frontlines fighting for the liberation of our community, we have to deal with this hatred within our community for just for who we are.”
“Pride started specifically against targeted police violence against our community,” said LGBTQ Commission At-Large Commissioner Justice Horn. “The movement was started by, amongst others, a Black trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson. To this day, Black and trans people still unjustly die and face violence, it’s important that we never forget this.”
Glasgow-Brown is hopeful change can be made in Kansas City with the LGBTQ Commission’s leadership.
“We are filled with folks who are ready for change and ready for sustainable change. We don’t want (the city council) to just pass a simple bathroom bill. We’re going to push (the city council) further,” Glasgow-Brown said. “We’re going to demand legislation that protects us and we’re going to demand funding for organizations who center the most impacted people.”