In the waning days of their legislative session, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday that would ban transition care for transgender youth.
The legislation, which had stalled for weeks in the Republican-controlled General Assembly because of disagreement over whether to include exceptions, is the latest in a national push by conservatives to limit access to medical care for transgender children, including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries.
The Missouri bill allows young people already receiving hormone treatments and puberty blockers to continue doing so, and the portion of the bill restricting hormone treatment and puberty blockers would expire in 2027. The measure would also ban transition surgeries for adult prisoners.
Missouri lawmakers also passed on Wednesday a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Background: Transition care was already in flux in Missouri
The vote on Wednesday was not the first attempt to limit transgender care in Missouri this year.
Though most changes in other states have come through legislation, Missouri’s Republican attorney general, Andrew Bailey, sought to use his state’s consumer protection law to severely restrict, though not fully ban, transition treatments. Unlike many other Republican attempts this year to limit gender-transitioning treatments, Mr. Bailey’s restrictions would have applied to adults as well as minors.
Enforcement of Mr. Bailey’s emergency rule, however, was blocked by a state judge hours before it was set to take effect last month.
Why It Matters: New limits are emerging across the country
The Missouri bill comes amid a national blitz of Republican legislation targeting transition care for transgender youth. Already this year, at least 13 states have enacted laws or policies aimed at banning or severely limiting those treatments.
The rapidly changing legal landscape has placed transition care out of reach for many transgender children in the Midwest and South, infuriating L.G.B.T.Q. rights advocates and prompting several lawsuits challenging the new rules.
Several states bordering Missouri — Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma — have passed new limits on transition care for minors this year. An attempt to ban care for minors in Kansas failed when lawmakers did not muster enough votes to override the Democratic governor’s veto.
Republicans supporting the bills say they are trying to protect children from making life-altering decisions they may later regret. Major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support gender-transitioning care and have said that bans pose serious mental health risks to young people, infringing not only on their rights but also on the rights of doctors and parents.
What’s Next: A decision by the governor and a continuing legal fight
The bills go to the desk of Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who has indicated to local reporters that he supports the restrictions.
Separately, a state judge in St. Louis County is scheduled to hear arguments this summer about whether to allow the attorney general’s rule limiting transgender care for people of all ages to go into effect while a legal challenge continues.