Missouri has abruptly terminated an emergency rule that imposed severe restrictions on gender-affirming care in the state.
In March, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) announced the regulation, which, among other directives, said both minors and adults in Missouri would be required 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.” Any mental health issues would have to be treated and resolved before they would be eligible for treatment for gender dysphoria.
Critics described the move as a “power grab” and “an outrageous attack on basic healthcare for transgender people of all ages.”
Soon after, a judge temporarily halted the rule, which critics said could force trans adults and young people to detransition.
Bailey told Missouri news station KMOV that he decided to drop the rule because the state legislature has passed S.B. 49, a gender-affirming care ban for trans youth, which Republican Gov. Mik Parson is expected to sign.
“The legislature has now passed a ban that exceeds the authority of the rule that we passed, so we will now be prepared to defend the statute in court,” Bailey said. “We were standing in the gap in healthcare to protect patients unless or until the General Assembly acted, and the General Assembly closed the gap by enacting a statute.”
But state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D) believes Bailey actually dropped the rule because he knew it was unconstitutional.
“Andrew Bailey grossly overstepped his legal authority, and everyone knows it,” Quade said in a statement. “So, it isn’t surprising he withdrew his unconstitutional rule knowing another embarrassing court defeat was inevitable. Missourians deserve an attorney general worthy of the office, not one who persecutes innocent Missourians for political gain.”
A statement from Lambda Legal – which filed a lawsuit with the ACLU against the rule – acknowledged the danger that still lies ahead for trans people in Missouri.
“While the immediate threat and unprecedented reach of the Attorney General’s emergency rule will end, we are fully aware that the Missouri Legislature continues to train its sights on Missouri’s trans community,” said Nora Huppert, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. “S.B. 49 would deny adolescent transgender Missourians access to evidence-based treatment supported by the overwhelming medical consensus. The fight against these dangerous and unprecedented attacks is far from over.”
The ACLU of Missouri said, “After weeks of embarrassing Missouri on the national stage, the Attorney General has finally joined everyone else in recognizing that his hasty attempt to usurp other branches of government cannot withstand scrutiny. His transparently faux concern for trans youth could not mask that his willingness to abuse his office in an attempt to erase from public all transgender Missourians. Today’s actions are a victory for Missourians’ right to bodily autonomy, but the fight is not over.”
“While recently passed legislation is not as extreme as the Attorney General’s unlawful rule, it still rejects the recommendations of every major medical association based on decades of peer-reviewed studies supporting the necessity of life-saving gender-affirming care. If it is allowed to become law, the legislation would substitute the uninformed opinions of politicians for patient and parental consent informed by knowledgeable medical professionals. The Governor should veto Senate Bills 39 [which seeks to ban trans kids from sports] and 49 and afford trans youth and their families the dignity of continuing make important medical decisions without interference from the political branches of government.”