How Transgender Rights Impact Getting to MLB Ballparks

With many states ramping up their anti-trans laws, it's time more cities followed Kansas City's example.

Published: Aug 24, 2023  |  

Transgender film and TV critic

I’m a baseball fan, and one of the things I am returning to over the next few years is visiting new-to-me Major League Baseball (MLB) ballparks and revisiting older stadiums. Part of the reason for the latter is the need to get new photos with the player, executive, or broadcaster statues both inside and outside the stadium. But it’s not so easy, especially with inflation leading to higher ticket prices while income has generally stayed the same. 

If it means taking a ballpark tour rather than taking in a game, it works in my book. Ballpark tours are generally cheaper than the game itself but that also depends on the market and which teams are playing.

And the goal of getting to every ballpark is easier said than done when taking my transgender identity into account. 

I appreciate that there are Democratic-led cities—with an MLB team—that care about the LGBTQ community. However, there are some states that I definitely will not step foot in due to personal safety concerns—the main ones primarily being Texas and Florida, home to four MLB teams. There are a number of other red and purple states with MLB teams too, which although not as high-risk, also have anti-trans laws on the books.

One recent state to attack transgender rights includes Missouri, home to the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals. I’m a long-time fan of the Cardinals, so the attacks on trans rights in Missouri are very personal. I recently made the decision to return to the state for the first time since coming out as trans, but it was not an easy one. The way I see it, I’m going to be spending as little time as possible there and not putting too many of my tax dollars into their coffers. I’d feel even more guilty if I knew any of my money was going into fighting the lawsuits that are opposing the transphobic bigotry. Not even St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Benjamin Hochman’s pleading to Missouri Governor Mike Carson was enough to prevent bigotry from being signed into state law.

Despite the horribly bigoted laws being signed in wherever you look, some of the Democratic-run cities are fighting back. It brought a smile to my face when I read how Kansas City, Missouri responded to the state government signing hatred into law. The city passed a resolution in May declaring it to be a safe haven for transgender residents. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas released the following statement at the time:

Kansas City government is committed to ensuring Kansas City is a welcoming, inclusive, and safe place for everyone, including our transgender and LGBTQ+ community. After the Missouri state legislature introduced several bills criminalizing access to gender-affirming healthcare across Missouri, I am proud City Council took action and approved the “safe haven” resolution to take steps, within our legal power, to protect our transgender community and anyone seeking gender-affirming care. For decades, Kansas City has been at the forefront of our region, ensuring we have equality for all, and we will continue to do everything in our power to fight for equal rights for all in our city, no matter what happens at our state capitol.

The kicker: “If a law is put into place by the State of Missouri which imposes criminal punishment, civil liability, administrative penalties, or professional sanctions on an individual or organization against gender-affirming healthcare staff is directed to make this their lowest priority.”

It’s very sad that the United States of America is becoming a country where one must double-check state laws to determine if it is safe or not to travel there. The fact that there’s a travel advisory for the entire state of Florida is the most concerning in 2023. It should not be this way and yet, once again, it is. 

There were books for both Jews and Blacks when it came to which hotels were welcoming. When it comes to being trans, it isn’t just hotels, but public places in which a trans person can—or can’t—use the restroom. Some target the ability to use the restrooms in schools, while other bills—such as one signed into law in Arkansas—were rewritten after being criticized for wording their anti-trans laws in a way that would have made it criminal for trans people to use the restroom. The Kansas legislature overturned Kansas Governor Laura Brown’s veto and enacted some of the worst bathroom laws in the country. Many states were only targeting trans youth, but Kansas crossed a line by targeting “locker rooms, prisons, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis centers.”

These laws are not about women’s safety as Republicans continue to argue. If they gave a damn about women’s safety, they wouldn’t be taking away the right to have an abortion. Their goal is to erase transgender people and treat us like third-class citizens in our own country. Every single state signing anti-trans hatred into law is opening itself up to a lawsuit from the likes of the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, etc.

It should not be too hard to respect a transgender person’s dignity and treat us with the respect that we deserve. Sometimes, all we need to do is pee, but we shouldn’t have to double-check whether or not we could be arrested for doing so.

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