Legislation restricting gender reassignment surgery for minors goes to Parson for signature

By Jamie Holcomb and Charlie Boehme, Missouri News Network
Posted 5/10/23

JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation barring minors from receiving gender-affirming care and preventing transgender youths from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity was sent …

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Legislation restricting gender reassignment surgery for minors goes to Parson for signature


JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation barring minors from receiving gender-affirming care and preventing transgender youths from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity was sent Wednesday to Gov. Mike Parson.

The action came after the House passed medical care restrictions 108-50 and the sports restrictions passed 109-49. Supporters said they wanted to protect those who are too young to understand the long-term implications of medical intervention and rejected suggestions that they are interfering with the ability of parents and children to make their own medical decisions.

This legislation has been a top priority for Republican lawmakers throughout the session. Parson previously said he would call the legislature back for a special session if the bills did not get passed.

“I want you to know that I stand on the shoulders of men and women who’ve spoken out before me,” said Rep. Brad Hudson, R-Cape Fair, who handled the medical bill on the floor. “Men and women who have been willing to stand up in a society that for too long has stood idly by and allowed children to be mutilated and drugged for no good reason.”

The bill dealing with medical issues specifically restricts minors from accessing hormone replacement therapy and gender reassignment surgery. The final version of the bill includes concessions from the Senate allowing minors already receiving gender-affirming care to continue treatment, and the ban will have to be reevaluated in four years.

Senate leaders had previously said that they would not accept changes by the House on these bills, including on the compromises made.

Notably, Republican floor leader Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, who is a physician, voted against this bill.

Debate over the legislation included emotional stories from some Democratic lawmakers, citing their transgender family members or personal experiences within the LGBTQ+ community as the source of their passion.

“I’m hurt as a member of the LGBT community, not nearly to the extent as these little kids are. I don’t care whether you meant to harm me or not. I’m still harmed, and these kids are still harmed,” said Rep. Ian Mackey, D-St. Louis.

Some Democrats also expressed fear over future legislation, saying that this issue is not going away and has spread across the country.

“This is a beginning, not an end,” said Rep. Barbara Phifer, D-St. Louis. “Nobody in Missouri woke up one day and said ‘Let’s persecute trans kids.’ This has come in from outside.”

Added Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City: “By withholding gender-affirming care from trans youth we are essentially sacrificing them on the altar of our own prejudice and bias.”

Following the vote, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, released a statement: “House Republicans made it clear they will abuse the awesome power of government to terrorize a small group of innocent children and their families for political advantage.”

As previously reported by the Missourian, the medical restrictions are part of a national movement to restrict gender-affirming care for minors that stems from model legislation from Women’s Declaration International USA.

“Laws made from hate and passed in fear will not make Missouri a safer, stronger state,” Missouri’s only openly gay senator, Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, said in a statement. “Targeting people because they are different will not grow our workforce, or improve our schools, or protect families and communities from deadly gun violence.”

A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri reads, “Both bans attempt to erase transness from Missouri. Every person in the state should be alarmed by this weaponization of the government to intimidate people through the denial of basic health care and exclusion from extracurricular activities.”

PROMO, a Missouri-based LGBTQ+ public policy and advocacy organization, also issued a statement against the legislation: “Since the beginning of the legislative session, our voices were not listened to and our stories were not taken seriously as public hearings were cut short, bill authors and sponsors left the room, and conversations fell on deaf ears.”

The group pledged: “We will continue to fight every day until every single transgender Missourian is able to live openly and honestly and thrive within our state.”

The repercussions of this legislation have been felt locally, as a member of the Columbia School Board announced her resignation Monday, citing this legislation as her reason. Katherine Sasser said her family is being targeted by this legislation and has decided to move out of the state.

At a press conference following the House action, Rep. Chris Sander, R-Lone Jack, said, “Whenever someone wants to leave Missouri, don’t. Because there’s people here who do care.”

While action was stalled in the legislature, Attorney General Andrew Bailey proposed a unique rule that would require adults and children to undergo more than a year of therapy and fulfill other requirements before they could receive gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers, hormones and surgery.

A state judge delayed implementation of the rule. Bailey’s office put out a statement late Wednesday lauding the legislature’s action.

“As for our pending legal actions, we are reviewing our options in light of the recently passed legislation,” the statement said.

The Center Project, a non-profit organization in Columbia, released a statement condemning Missouri Republicans for “putting politics above the health, safety, and well-being of our young people.”

“These bans on gender-affirming healthcare and participation in sports directly harm and endanger our community, most of all families with transgender child, transwomen and girls, and BIPOC, rural and incarcerated transgender Missourians with already limited access to resources.”

The Missouri state legislature ends its session Friday evening.


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