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Missouri attorney general bans gender-affirming care in “power grab”

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Missouri’s Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) has announced an “emergency regulation” that restricts gender-affirming medical care for transgender people in his state.

Trans and civil rights advocates have criticized Bailey’s announcement for spreading misinformation and attempting a “power grab” while his state’s legislature considers a bill restricting gender-affirming care. Though Bailey’s announcement mentions “children,” it doesn’t list any age limits for his emergency regulations, meaning that it could apply to people of all ages.

In a March 20 statement, Bailey announced restrictions including a requirement that individuals must wait 18 months before being given gender-affirming care.

During this waiting period, they must undergo at least 15 hours of therapy, including “a full psychological or psychiatric assessment” to see if they have autism and to ensure that all their “mental health comorbidities” have been “treated and resolved.”

“Comorbidities” is a word for other medical conditions that may be present in a patient, and it has become one of anti-transgender activists’ favorite words as they push the unsubstantiated theory that mental health conditions are regularly mistaken for transgender identity by health care professionals.

In a tweet, out journalist Erin Reed noted that a trans person’s mental health comorbidities could often be resolved by receiving gender-affirming care. However, if trans people are blocked from receiving such care until those comorbidities are resolved, those conditions may never get resolved.

Bailey’s announcement said transitioning individuals must be monitored for 15 years afterward to find any adverse effects of their gender-affirming care. Patients must also undergo an annual check-in to ensure that they’re “not experiencing social contagion with respect to the patient’s gender identity.” “Social contagion” is another anti-transgender buzzword that refers to the idea that people just transition because their transgender friends are pressuring them to do so.

Bailey’s emergency regulation would also require transitioning individuals to sign an informed consent document that says the use of hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers are “not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Susan Halla, president of the trans advocacy group Transparent, said that the FDA hasn’t approved of such treatments because “studies involving young people are rarely conducted,” Salt Lake Public Radio reported.

The informed consent document would also contain statistics suggesting that gender-affirming care is dangerous and unnecessary. These statistics have been debunked, Halla said, and also contradict the suggestions for trans-related care issued by major American medical and psychological associations.

In his announcement, Bailey wrote, “Because gender transition interventions are experimental, they are covered by existing Missouri law governing unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable business practices,” suggesting that his office may prosecute any clinics that don’t follow his new regulations. However, such interventions aren’t “experimental.” Medical practitioners have rendered such care for decades.

“Even Europe recognizes that mutilating children for the sake of a woke, leftist agenda has irreversible consequences,” he added, echoing a right-wing lie that gender-affirming surgeries are commonly performed on children. They aren’t.

Halla said of Bailey’s announcement, “There are many things on it that are blatantly false, or impossible to quantify in some way. One of the items was to make sure that this child is not part of a social contagion. Like, how do you do that?”

Tom Bastian, a spokesman for the Missouri American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, “These actions do not protect anyone; rather, they put an already marginalized group of children in greater danger.”

Bailey, who is not a doctor, said his emergency regulations will last 30 legislative days or 180 days, whichever is longer, his statement said.

Reed wrote of the announcement, “This is a de facto ban for many trans youth while the Missouri legislature considers a ban in and of itself. This unilateral action is a power grab by the Attorney General, plain and simple.” Bailey is also up for re-election in 2024 and may be pursuing this crusade to shore up conservative votes.

Meanwhile, Missouri’s Republican-controlled senate approved bans on gender-affirming care and transgender women participating in women’s sports, including at private schools and colleges.

“With [Bailey’s] announcement, I think you’ll see that very few clinicians are willing to risk direct, retaliatory, legal action and or risk to their professional license,” Brandon Barthel, a Kansas City-based endocrinologist who provides care for transgender adults, told The Kansas City Star. “Wouldn’t surprise me if this effectively halts any gender-affirming care on minors in the state of Missouri.”

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