March 21, 2023 – Associated Press
The state’s Republican attorney general said he will file an emergency rule to limit access to transgender care for minors, sidestepping the GOP-led Senate.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Republican attorney general on Monday said he will limit access to gender-affirming care for minors, sidestepping the GOP-led Senate as it struggles to pass a law banning the practice for children completely.
As hundreds of activists rallied at the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to act on the bill, Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced plans to file an emergency rule.
The rule will require an 18-month waiting period, 15 hour-long therapy sessions and treatment of any mental illnesses before Missouri doctors can provide that kind of care to transgender children, according to Bailey’s office.
“I am dedicated to using every legal tool at my disposal to stand in the gap and protect children from being subject to inhumane science experiments,” Bailey said.
The emergency rule also requires disclosure of information about puberty blocker drugs, including that they are experimental, not approved by the FDA and that the FDA has warned they can lead to brain swelling and blindness, Bailey said.
While puberty blockers and hormones often prescribed in transgender treatment are not FDA approved for transgender care, they are used in those cases “off-label,″ which is an accepted and permitted practice.
This is not the first time Bailey has weighed in on transgender health care since taking office in January.
In February, Bailey announced an investigation of a transgender youth clinic in St. Louis run by Washington University, following allegations of abuse by a former employee. He asked the university to shut down the clinic, but it refused.
Bailey’s spokeswoman did not say when the new health care rule will be filed and did not provide a copy.
Maysa Akbar, chief diversity officer for the American Psychological Association, called the rule “a disturbing development for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in Missouri.”
“This emergency order flies in the face of the scientific consensus, which is that, with appropriate psychological screening, treatment approaches should affirm an adolescent’s gender identity, not deny it,” Akbar said. “Research shows that discrimination has adverse effects on the health and well-being of transgender people.”
The rule appears to be aimed at helping children who might regret transitioning, said Dr. Jack Drescher, section editor of the gender dysphoria chapter of the DSM-5, the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s mental illness manual.
“However it does so at the expense of those children who would indeed benefit from transition services,” Drescher said. “Sacrificing the well being of the latter for the presumed benefit to the former is an ethically troubling intervention by the state into clinical practice.”
Missouri LGBTQ-rights group PROMO called Bailey’s rule an abuse of power and said his office “does not respect the professional guidelines of every major medical association in our country, who agrees gender-affirming healthcare is the standard of care for transgender Missourians.”