‘Fight with us’: KC medical students, doctors join protest of gender-affirming care ban

Dr. Candice Moran, 37, fanned their two young children in the shade of Ilus Park Saturday afternoon as over 150 protesters rounded the corner of Oak and East 10th Street in a sea of rainbow flags and picket signs.

“Trans rights matter!” said the crowd.

Like Moran, many of the Kansas Citians marching had braved the 90 degree heat for this rally, organized by eight metro-area medical students, to push back against restrictions on gender affirming care proposed by Missouri lawmakers.

On April 13, the House voted in favor of banning transition surgeries, hormone therapy and puberty blockers for minors, sending it to the Senate. Then, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed emergency rules limiting a doctors ability to provide gender-affirming care. As of April 27, under this rule, doctors would be unable to provide this care to minors until all of the patient’s documented mental health issues have been treated and resolved.

But, a St. Louis County judge extended an order Thursday blocking enforcement of the rule until at least July 24.

For Moran, a Kirksville native, the ongoing efforts to restrict care felt personal.

“There is not one area of my life that is not impacted,” Moran said.

Both Moran and their seven year old child are non-binary. Moran also works as a psychologist, providing guidance and care to medical students around Kansas City.

They were among a large crowd of people in the medical field who attended the Saturday afternoon rally.

Some of the protesters came in scrubs and handmade signs calling the limits on gender-affirming care dangerous. At least eight people told The Star they were not comfortable sharing their names for fear of retaliation from their medical institution. Others feared speaking about local politics would hurt their ability to practice in Missouri.

Cassie Taylor, 36, and their child Woods Haren, 8, designed a poster in the crowd of people gathered Saturday in Ilus Park to protest restrictions on gender-affirming care. Taylor wrote “You cannot make us disappear” in bold letters.
Cassie Taylor, 36, and their child Woods Haren, 8, designed a poster in the crowd of people gathered Saturday in Ilus Park to protest restrictions on gender-affirming care. Taylor wrote “You cannot make us disappear” in bold letters.

One of the organizers, Erica Yauney, said she was not surprised to hear many arriving were anxious.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the institutions around here to stay quiet and not get involved,” she said. “A lot of providers are nervous because they don’t want to get in trouble.”

Yauney explained the rally was prompted by conversations with other students and practicing physicians, who fear the rules will hurt their ability to receive and provide care.

“They’re worried they won’t be able to get the care they need to keep on hormone therapies and keep doing what they’ve been doing,” she said.

The large turnout, Yauney said, was reassuring. Trans community members and activists helped raise awareness for the event and jumped on stage to speak to the crowd.

‘They want to erase us’

President of the LGBTQ Caucus of the Kansas Democratic Party Jae Moyer thanked the large group for standing up for trans healthcare.

“They want to erase us,” Moyer said to a boos from across the audience.

“We only win by making members of the LGBTQ community know they are not alone,” they said.

Slowly the microphone was passed to other activists and medical professionals passionate about providing gender-affirming care. One family care doctor, Quinn Jackson, who is transgender, said the rules force doctors to “practice medicine with their hands tied behind their backs.”

“It truly is one of the greatest honors of my life to take care of my community and provide [gender-affirming care] to them,” Jackson said.

“To the trans people in the audience, know that you are vibrant and beautiful and deserve to be treated with love and celebration, not just tolerance.”

Woods Haren, 8, lifted a sign they had drawn in the crowd of people gathered Saturday in Ilus Park to protest restrictions on gender-affirming care.
Woods Haren, 8, lifted a sign they had drawn in the crowd of people gathered Saturday in Ilus Park to protest restrictions on gender-affirming care.

Dr. Candice Moran looked on as their children colored in “Trans Rights Matter” posters and the speeches came to a close.

Like many of the other medical professionals, Moran had been trying to teach doctors and students about carving out safe spaces for trans people since they started practicing in 2012.

In the final moments of the rally, Moran confessed that they are nervous for future aspiring trans and non-binary doctors.

“The students I’ve worked with, these people are scared. People are wondering to what extent do we leave [Missouri] and to what extent do we stay and fight,” Moran said.

“Why would they want to go to school or take residency in states where its not safe for them or their patients?”

Over the last decade, many colleagues and other medical professionals questioned why Moran chose to work in Missouri and speak about supporting trans youth.

“When I’ve tried to share who I am, they’ve said ‘Well, why does that matter?’ They felt it should be completely separate. But who we are impacts everything we do,” Moran said.

For their own child’s well-being, Moran hopes more doctors find the strength to speak out.

“We’re here, we’re not going anywhere,” Moran said of non-binary and trans people.

“Fight with us.”

Protesters marched around Ilus Park Saturday afternoon to protest restrictions on gender-affirming care as part of a rally organized by multiple medical students from around the metro area.
Protesters marched around Ilus Park Saturday afternoon to protest restrictions on gender-affirming care as part of a rally organized by multiple medical students from around the metro area.