In a move that has ignited both support and controversy, Governor Mike Parson of Missouri has endorsed two new pieces of legislation that will have a significant impact on transgender youth in the state. One of the laws prohibits minors from accessing transgender health care, while the other enforces participation in sports teams based on an athlete’s biological sex.
Governor Parson, who is a member of the Republican party, believes that signing these bills into law will send a message against what he perceives as “nonsense” and demonstrate support for women and girls who have fought for equal opportunities. He asserts that the laws aim to protect children from making irreversible life-altering decisions before they have the chance to physically and emotionally mature.
Effective August 28th, healthcare providers in Missouri will be prohibited from prescribing sex change surgeries to teenagers and children. While most adults will still have access to transgender health care, these services will no longer be covered under Medicaid.
Unsurprisingly, major medical organizations have criticized these laws, arguing against bans on transgender health care and advocating for medical care when deemed appropriate by healthcare professionals. Lawsuits have also been initiated in other states to challenge similar bans.
Supporters of trans rights are expressing their disappointment and anger towards these new laws. Representatives from Missouri’s LGBTQ+ advocacy group PROMO accuse the governor of devaluing LGBTQ+ lives, particularly transgender and gender-expansive youth. Crystal Quade, the Democratic Minority Leader in the Missouri House, condemns the laws for persecuting innocent families trying to live peaceful lives.
The ACLU of Missouri warns that these bills will have devastating consequences for trans individuals of all age groups and pledges to explore all possible options to fight against these bans and expand the rights of transgender individuals in Missouri.
Missouri’s introduction of these laws aligns with a national trend led by conservative lawmakers that seeks to impose restrictions on transgender and nonbinary individuals. Alongside the topic of abortion, regulating transgender rights has emerged as a significant theme in state legislative sessions this year.
Missouri now joins at least 20 other states that have enacted laws limiting or outright banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. However, it is important to note that these laws are being met with opposition at the federal level. Federal judges have already blocked similar laws in Alabama and Arkansas, while Oklahoma has agreed to temporarily halt its enforcement pending a court order sought by opponents of the law.