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Missouri GOP lawmakers want to ban trans adults from getting gender-affirming healthcare

Tobi Yandle, transgender student, teen, bathroom bill, Tennessee, Siegel High School
Photo: Shutterstock

Several states have passed laws banning transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming healthcare, but Missouri Republicans are now trying to ban many transgender adults from getting access to life-saving care, even while the state still allows children to get married.

H.B. 2649 would ban doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth until they reach the age of 18. Like many such laws, they do not ban gender-affirming care for cisgender youth and carve out an exemption for doctors and parents who want to force surgery on intersex youth.

Related: Teacher says she got harassed for standing up for LGBTQ kids. Now she’s suing the district.

During a hearing for H.B. 2649 last week, a psychologist testified that people under the age of 25 don’t have brains that are developed enough to make big decisions, citing some research about how the prefrontal cortex continues to develop into a person’s 20s. which led to some Republicans suggesting that the bill should ban gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 25.

“The brains of especially males are still developing into their twenties and I don’t understand why that’s not part of the discussion here,” state Rep. Nick Schroer (R) said.

Missouri, though, allows young adults to make a number of life-changing decisions and prosecutes people as young as age 12 as adults in criminal cases.

Moreover, the state allows minors ages 16 and up to get married with parental consent, a practice that opponents call a form of abuse. Children as young as 14 can get married in Missouri with a court order, and that’s the result of a state law passed in 2018 creating a minimum marriage age in the state for the first time, a law that 50 Missouri House members voted against it and almost all of them were Republicans.

“There’s no typical profile,” said Donna Pollard, the founder of Survivors’ Corner. “It could very well be correlated to poverty, it could also be correlated to parents that are trafficking their children to get money for drugs. And then in some cases, parents really have good intentions and they don’t realize that they are also being groomed by pedophiles that have horrible intentions for their child.”

While opponents of transgender equality say that trans youth should wait until they’re much older to transition, many treatment options are effectively taken off the table the older a person gets. Puberty blockers, for example, are prescribed at the beginning of puberty to prevent the permanent effects of puberty, making them useless for a 25-year-old.

A 2020 study found that teens who wanted puberty blockers and got them were at a much lower risk of suicidal thoughts for the rest of their lives, and a study from last year of trans teens in the U.K. found that they were happier after receiving puberty blockers.

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