In a swift turn of events, Missouri repealed an emergency regulation that had imposed significant limitations on gender-affirming care within the state. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) had announced the regulation in March, which stipulated that both minors and adults would need to undergo 15 hourly sessions with a therapist for at least 18 months before accessing gender-affirming care, such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers. Additionally, individuals would be subjected to autism and “social media addiction” testing, with any mental health concerns required to be addressed before receiving treatment for gender dysphoria. Critics swiftly condemned the decision, calling it a “power grab” and an “outrageous attack on basic healthcare for transgender people of all ages.”
However, the regulation was soon blocked temporarily by a court, as critics argued that it would effectively force transgender adults and youth to detransition. Subsequently, Attorney General Bailey dropped the restriction, citing the imminent enactment of S.B. 49, a prohibition on gender-affirming care for transgender minors, which was expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Mik Parson.
Bailey stated that the legislature had passed a ban that exceeded the authority of the previously enacted rule, prompting him to defend the statute in court instead. He argued that their intention was to stand in the gap in healthcare to protect patients until the General Assembly took action, and that the gap had been closed through the passage of the statute.
Critics, such as Texas House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D), contended that Bailey withdrew the proposal because he recognized its unlawfulness. Quade asserted that Bailey had grossly overstepped his legal authority and expressed disappointment in his actions, emphasizing the need for a respectable attorney general who does not persecute innocent Missourians for political gain.
Lambda Legal, which filed a lawsuit against the regulation alongside the ACLU, acknowledged the ongoing dangers faced by transgender individuals in Missouri. While the immediate threat posed by the Attorney General’s emergency rule had been eliminated, they highlighted that Senate Bill 49 would deny transgender adolescents access to evidence-based treatment supported by overwhelming medical consensus. They stressed that the fight against these unprecedented and alarming attacks was far from over.
The ACLU of Missouri also issued a statement, describing the Attorney General’s hasty attempt to overstep other branches of government as embarrassing for the state. They believed that his seemingly disingenuous concern for transgender youth could not conceal his determination to abuse his power and erase transgender individuals from public view. While the repeal of the emergency regulation was a victory for bodily autonomy, they emphasized that the battle was still ongoing.
They further expressed concern regarding recently enacted legislation, although not as extreme as the Attorney General’s rule, which rejected the recommendations of major medical associations based on extensive peer-reviewed studies supporting the importance of life-saving gender-affirming care. They urged the Governor to veto Senate Bills 39 and 49, which sought to prohibit transgender children from participating in sports and interfere with the ability of transgender adolescents and their families to make critical medical decisions without political interference.
As the situation evolves, it remains crucial to promote understanding, acceptance, and support for the rights and well-being of transgender individuals, fostering an inclusive society where all individuals can access the healthcare they need and live authentically without discrimination or fear.