A judge has temporarily halted a Missouri rule that critics say could force transgender adults and young people to detransition.
PBS News Hour reports that St. Louis County Circuit Judge Ellen Ribaudo put the rule, which was intended to go into effect today, on hold until 5 p.m. Monday.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) issued the “emergency regulation” to severely restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare in the state earlier this month in a move that critics described as a “power grab” and “an outrageous attack on basic healthcare for transgender people of all ages.”
The rule would require both minors and adults in Missouri to receive 15 hourly sessions with a therapist over at least 18 months before receiving gender-affirming care such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers. They would also have to be screened for autism and “social media addiction,” and any mental health issues would have to be treated and resolved before they would be eligible for treatment for gender dysphoria.
Notably, Bailey’s messaging around the rule framed it as “protecting” children from what he falsely characterized as “experimental” medical treatments, but the final rule as filed with Missouri’s Secretary of State on April 13 included no age limits and thus applies to trans people of all ages.
Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri, along with Lambda Legal and Bryan Cave Leighton LLP, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Southampton Community Healthcare, Kelly Storck, Logan Casey, and the families of two transgender people. Lawyers for the ACLU argued at Wednesday’s hearing that Bailey sidestepped the state legislature and acted beyond his authority in attempting to regulate gender-affirming health care under the state’s consumer-protection laws, according to PBS News Hour.
“We don’t allow attorneys general to legislate, and we don’t allow them to play doctor,” ACLU of Missouri attorney Tony Rothert said.
Rothert argued that the rule “will cause immediate, severe and potentially irreparable harm” to transgender people.
Rothert and other attorneys asked Ribaudo to delay the rule for 30 days while she considered the case, but the judge said she needed time to decide whether to issue a 30-day temporary restraining order, halting the rule instead until Monday.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of the new rule, Kansas City, Missouri’s LGBTQ Commission sent a letter to city councilmembers, urging them to pass legislation to make Kansas City a “safe haven” for transgender people.
“There are several states, counties, and cities who have passed legislation codifying the right to receive and have access to gender-affirming care into law,” the letter reads. “In the City of Kansas City, we must take every action at our disposal to be proactive, reduce harm, and ensure that Kansas Citians have access to life-saving healthcare.”
The commission also asked county prosecutors to exercise prosecutorial discretion in enforcing anti-LGBTQ+ laws and Bailey’s emergency rules, according to local NPR station KCUR.