Missouri Becomes Trans Healthcare’s Latest Battleground

A Missouri judge has temporarily suspended a gender-affirming care ban that would have affected both trans youth and adults throughout the state, the AP reports. The court case concerns an emergency order issued by state ​​Attorney General Andrew Bailey that places extreme restrictions on access to hormone therapy and puberty blockers.

Issued on April 13, the emergency rule requires gender-affirming care patients to document “long-lasting, persistent and intense” gender dysphoria for 3 years and submit themselves to 15 hours of therapy over 18 months. In addition, patients would have to be screened for “social media addiction,” autism, depression and anxiety. After all of this, patients who do manage to receive care must be tracked for at least 15 years to monitor adverse effects.

Through the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and other legal groups, transgender Missourians are fighting back. These lawsuits seek to argue that the AG has taken advantage of consumer-protection laws to circumvent the legislature in order to dictate healthcare requirements.

“We don’t allow attorneys general to legislate, and we don’t allow them to play doctor,” said ACLU attorney Tony Rothert.

The emergency rule was due to come into effect on April 27 and would have been applicable through February 2024. With mere hours to spare, St Louis County Circuit Judge Ellen Ribaudo ordered a temporary hold on Thursday. Now the courts have until Monday to consider arguments before coming to a decision (though Ribaudo added that a ruling would probably be issued before then.)

While the suspension is temporary, advocacy groups have welcomed the short reprieve. “We are grateful for the court’s decision to issue a temporary stay,” ACLU Missouri said in a statement. “No less than the health and well-being of thousands of transgender Missourians is at stake.

“Gender-affirming care is supported by overwhelming scientific data, decades of clinical experience, and the medical consensus of major medical organizations in the United States.

“The decision on whether or not to allow the implementation of this rule, which ignores the proven sciences and experience of health care providers, will have an immediate impact on Missourians of all ages and their access to lifesaving medical care.”

The suspension gives healthcare recipients some time to prepare for the final ruling, with some providers advising patients to seek 90-day supplies for medications. At the same time, patients have already reported notices from their doctor pointing out the likelihood that treatment plans will soon end.

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