Missouri Senate passes bans on gender-affirming care, trans athletes in girls’ sports

The Republican-controlled Missouri Senate on Thursday passed a pair of bills that would ban gender-affirming care for minors and prohibit transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

The first bill, filed by state Sen. Mike Moon, an Ash Grove Republican, would ban all “gender transition procedures” for people under 18. The bill, which passed 24-8, would allow minors to continue hormone therapy or puberty blockers if they were already prescribed them.

As a concession to Democrats, who spent 13 hours this week filibustering the bill, the restrictions on hormone therapy and puberty blockers expire in 2027. The ban on gender-affirming surgeries does not expire.

The other bill, filed by state Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, a Sikeston Republican, would ban transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports, including at private schools and colleges. Rehder’s legislation, which also expires in 2027, passed on a vote of 25-8.

Both bills will head to the House, where Republican leadership has vowed to vote on similar legislation.

Missouri Democrats, LGBTQ advocates and doctors have lambasted the legislation, saying the bills were an attack on the transgender community.

State Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat and Missouri’s only openly gay state senator, addressed the transgender Missourians on the floor Thursday.

“I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I’m sorry that your government is doing this to you. And I’m sorry I couldn’t do more to protect you,” said Razer, who was involved in filibustering against the legislation.

“I did everything that I knew how to do and there are some of you who will not be able to get the medical care that you need.”

Razer, in a follow-up statement, said that he intends to be in the state Senate when the gender-affirming care ban expires.

“Hopefully by then, the politics will have faded and a future legislature will be driven more by facts than fear,” he said.

Missouri Republicans have argued that minors should not be able to undergo gender-affirming care until they turn 18. Republicans have framed the sports ban as an issue of fairness to ensure athletes assigned female at birth are not at a physical disadvantage. However, only a small number of transgender student athletes compete in Missouri.

“The whole point of this initiative…is to protect the most innocent, the most vulnerable among us,” Moon said on the floor Thursday.

The Missouri bills are part of an onslaught of legislation nationally that target procedures that assist minors in transitioning genders and ban transgender girls from women’s sports. LGBTQ rights advocates have said the legislation targets both transgender kids and doctors. They say Republicans have embarked on a sustained attack on the LGBTQ community.

The debate in the Missouri Senate came the same week that anti-transgender protesters descended on the Missouri Capitol to urge Republicans to pass both pieces of legislation.

Minutes after the Senate passed both bills, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced that his office had created a tip line for people “who have experienced harm from gender transition interventions or witnessed troubling practices at transition clinics in Missouri.”

The tip line follows an investigation launched by Bailey’s office into a transgender center in St. Louis.

Earlier this week, Bailey announced his office planned to file a set of emergency rules aimed at restricting how doctors provide gender-affirming care to minors.

The rules include strict psychological therapy requirements for doctors providing care as well as banning care until all of a patient’s other mental health issues have been treated and resolved.

Doctors and LGBTQ advocates previously told The Star that Bailey’s rules would be difficult to enforce but may create a chilling effect for both patients and doctors providing care.

“With this announcement, I think you’ll see that very few clinicians are willing to risk direct, retaliatory, legal action and or risk to their professional license,” said Brandon Barthel, a Kansas City-based endocrinologist who provides care for transgender adults. “Wouldn’t surprise me if this effectively halts any gender affirming care on minors in the state of Missouri.”