Missouri judge says state’s gender-affirming care ban can be enforced

The law bans gender-affirming care for youth and bars using Medicaid. It goes into effect on Monday.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.  – A St. Louis County judge has ruled that Missouri’s law banning gender-affirming care for youth can go into force.

SB 49, which bans gender-affirming care for youth and adults on Medicaid, goes into effect on Monday, Aug. 28.

The Associated Press reported that St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer made the ruling on Friday.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed SB 49 into law in early June. The ACLU of Missouri, Lambda Legal, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP sued to block enforcement in late June.

PROMO Missouri, the state’s LGBTQ advocacy organization, condemned the ruling.

“We are enraged — not only has our government and elected officials failed us, but now our justice system has failed to do its job in protecting the most vulnerable of our population,” said Aro Royston, board secretary for PROMO. ”The courts told the transgender community, parents of gender-expansive youth, and the entire LGBTQ+ community that we do not exist, that we do not have the right to make our own medical decisions or the right to bodily autonomy. There is no categorical ban like this in the world making the actions of the Missouri State Government the most egregious in history.”

The AP reported that Ohmer called the scientific and medical evidence “conflicting and unclear.”

Gender-affirming care has been well-established since 2007 and has been studied since the 1990s. The American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology have all said that gender-affirming care is safe and the standard of care.

Both the AMA and AAP have reaffirmed their support for gender-affirming care this year.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) welcomed the news. Bailey has been active in trying to limit access to gender-affirming care.

“Missouri is the first state in the nation to successfully defend at the trial court level a law barring child mutilation,” Bailey said in a statement. “I’ve said from day one as Attorney General that I will fight to ensure that Missouri is the safest state in the nation for children. This is a huge step in that direction.”

“As a Black trans man, I want to remind my community there is still hope,” Royston said. “I realize this may be an unthinkable situation for us right now, but know that there are a multitude of people who are risking their very lives to make it better including the brave plaintiffs who are fighting for our right to simply exist and be recognized.”

People can reach out to local, trans-led groups like Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG), The Shades Project, or St. Louis Queer+ Support Helpline (SQSH) in St. Louis, Transformations in Kansas City, and Springfield Transgender and Ally Resource Team (START) in Springfield, Mo., for support.

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