Missouri Senate endorses transgender health restrictions

The Missouri Senate gave initial approval Tuesday to a pair of bills that would temporarily...
The Missouri Senate gave initial approval Tuesday to a pair of bills that would temporarily prohibit gender transitioning health care treatments for minors and restrict them from competing in sports.(KY3)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:11 AM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Senate gave initial approval Tuesday to a pair of bills that would temporarily prohibit gender transitioning health care treatments for minors and restrict them from competing in sports.

The Senate votes came after an all-night session and only after Republican supporters agreed to several provisions they described as compromises with Democrats, including the addition of an automatic expiration for the restrictive provisions in 2027.

The GOP also agreed to allow minors already receiving hormone treatments or puberty-blocking drugs to continue to do so, applying that ban only to those who had not yet started them.

Healthcare providers who perform a gender-transition surgery or prescribe “cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs” to minors could have their medical licenses revoked.

Republican state Sen. Mike Moon, a lead sponsor of one of the bills, said the expiration date was necessary to win approval in the Senate, where Democrats had held up the bills. Democrats still voted against the measures, which need a final Senate vote to move to the House.

“What we got is a good start,” Moon said. “The result is that children will be protected, and I hope that will continue.”

The Senate votes came a day after hundreds of activists rallied at the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to approve the legislation. The rally featured a diverse collection of speakers, including Republican and Libertarian officials, Christian leaders and several gay and transgender activists who said that only adults should be able to decide to receive gender-affirming treatments.

Katy Erker-Lynch, executive director of the LGBTQ rights group PROMO, had encouraged its supporters to stay away from the rally but vowed to “fight every step of the way” against the measures.

During a Senate debate Monday, Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur described the treatments ban as “an example of pretty serious government overreach.”

“You may have your opinions about this, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to impose your opinions or regulate someone else’s kids,” she said.

Also Monday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced an emergency regulation limiting access to gender-affirming treatments for minors.

The Republican attorney general said his administrative rule would require an 18-month waiting period, 15 hour-long therapy sessions, and treatment of any mental illnesses before Missouri doctors can provide gender-affirming treatments to children younger than 18.

Once that rule takes effect, it can last no more than 180 days, so it would essentially serve as a bridge to any law passed by the Legislature, which would take effect Aug. 28.