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Missouri Families Sue to Block Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

Missouri Families Sue to Block Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

Protesters at Missouri capitol
Ryanzo W. Perez/Shutterstock

The ban on care for trans minors and certain adults is set to go into effect August 28.

Families, medical providers, and LGBTQ+ organizations have filed a lawsuit in hopes of keeping Missouri’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors from going into effect.

They filed the suit Tuesday in Circuit Court in Cole County, which includes the state capital, Jefferson City. They are challenging Senate Bill 49, signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson June 7. It is set to become effective August 28.

SB 49 prohibits hormone treatment, puberty blockers, and gender-confirmation surgeries for the purpose of gender transition for people under 18, while allowing them for cisgender minors who have a disorder of gender development or other condition that necessitates their use. Trans minors already on hormones or puberty blockers will be able to stay on them, but they cannot initiate treatment. The law also bans gender-affirming care for adults imprisoned in Missouri and prevents the state’s Medicaid program from covering this care for people of any age.

The suit was brought by the families of three transgender people, Southampton Community Healthcare and two of its medical providers, and two organizations, PFLAG and GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality. They are represented by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. Gov. Parson is named as defendant. The suit is known as Noe v. Parson, Noe being one of the anonymous plaintiffs.

SB 49 violates the Missouri Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law, similar to that provided in the U.S. Constitution, the suit states, and interferes with parents’ right to manage their children’s health care. Because the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in proving these arguments, it continues, the court should issue a preliminary injunction keeping the law from going into effect while the case proceeds. Trans minors in Missouri will suffer irreparable harm if the law is allowed to be enforced, the suit contends.

Several of the same plaintiffs, represented by the same legal groups, had won a temporary restraining order blocking a rule put in place by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey that banned gender-affirming care for trans youth. Bailey withdrew the rule, however, after state legislators passed SB 49.

“SB 49 is the latest chapter in Missouri’s relentless attacks on transgender people, and the stories of the families challenging the law demonstrate the immense, devastating harm it is already inflicting on their lives,” Nora Huppert, staff attorney at Lambda Legal, said in a press release. “SB 49 would deny adolescent transgender Missourians access to evidence-based treatment supported by the overwhelming medical consensus. This law is not just harmful and cruel; it is life-threatening.”

“On its face, the law enshrines discriminatory practices in our health care system by specifically denying transgender Missourians under the age of 18 access to evidence-based gender-affirming medical care while stripping parents of their fundamental right to make medical decisions for their children,” added Gillian Wilcox, deputy director of litigation at the ACLU of Missouri. “Extreme politicians in Missouri, like the attorney general, have made known their desire to ban gender-affirming care throughout the state. This legislation targets very specific, vulnerable populations — young people, those who access health care through Medicaid, and incarcerated individuals — to replace private medical decisions with the will of politicians in Jefferson City.”

“We are frightened and outraged at Missouri’s assault on our rights as parents to seek necessary health care for our children,” said a statement from the families in the suit. “SB 49 is an attempt to interfere in our family relationships and it places the health and well-being of our children at great risk. It must be stopped.”

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