Missouri Senate advances bans on gender-affirming care, transgender student athletes

Tribune Content Agency

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The GOP-controlled Missouri Senate early on Tuesday advanced a pair of bills that would ban most gender-affirming care for minors and bar transgender people from competing in women’s sports.

The first bill, filed by state Sen. Mike Moon, an Ash Grove Republican, would ban all “gender transition procedures” for people under 18. However, a new version of the bill, which passed 27-9, would allow minors to continue hormone therapy or puberty blockers if they were already prescribed them.

The other bill, filed by state Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, a Sikeston Republican, would ban transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports, including at private schools and colleges. Rehder’s legislation passed on a voice vote.

Both bills, which have been a priority for Missouri Senate Republicans, will need one more vote before they are sent to the House. That final vote could happen later this week.

Missouri Democrats filibustered versions of the legislation for more than 13 hours prior to Tuesday’s early morning votes, arguing that the bills were an attack on the transgender community. Democrats had successfully delayed a vote on the gender-affirming care ban earlier this month.

“They’re using kids as political pawns and that burns me up,” state Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat, said on the floor early Tuesday morning. Razer is Missouri’s only openly gay state senator.

Missouri Republicans have argued that minors should not be able to undergo gender-affirming care until they turn 18. While they have framed the sports ban as an issue of fairness to ensure athletes assigned female at birth are not at a physical disadvantage, only a small number of transgender athletes compete in Missouri.

“This is about protecting kids,” state Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Warrensburg Republican, said on the floor on Monday.

The Missouri bills are part of an onslaught of legislation nationally that target procedures that assist minors in transitioning genders and ban transgender girls from women’s sports. LGBTQ rights advocates have said the legislation targets both transgender kids and doctors. They say Republicans have embarked on a sustained attack on the LGBTQ community.

“There are probably about 2,500 trans kids in the entire state who are being tortured by their government, being treated like cannon fodder for their war,” Daniel Bogard, a St. Louis rabbi and father of a young transgender boy, previously told The Kansas City Star.

The debate in the Missouri Senate played out as anti-transgender protesters descended on the Missouri Capitol to urge Republicans to pass both pieces of legislation.

Earlier on Monday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced his office plans to file a set of emergency rules aimed at restricting how doctors provide gender-affirming care to minors.

The rules include strict psychological therapy requirements for doctors providing care as well as banning care until all of a patient’s other mental health issues have been treated and resolved.

Doctors and LGBTQ advocates told The Star that Bailey’s rules would be difficult to enforce but may create a chilling effect for both patients and doctors providing care.

“With this 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,” said Brandon Barthel, a Kansas City-based endocrinologist who provides care for transgender adults. “Wouldn’t surprise me if this effectively halts any gender affirming care on minors in the state of Missouri.”