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What you need to know about the Missouri bill that would restrict health care for transgender kids

The Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Jefferson City.

The Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to a pair of bills early Tuesday morning targeting transgender minors and athletes. It needs another vote in the Senate before moving on to the Missouri House.

After more than 12 hours of filibustering, the Missouri Senate gave initial approval to a pair of bills targeting transgender minors and athletes.

Early Tuesday morning, senators approved SB39, which bars transgender athletes, including both trans girls and boys, from participating in sports that align with their gender identity. They also gave initial approval to SB49, which bars transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming health care.

Both bills need an additional vote in the Senate before they move to the Missouri House.

The bills would either partly or fully expire four years after they go into effect. The expiration date is Aug. 28, 2027. Additionally, the bill on transition health care includes an exception for minors who are already receiving some gender-affirming health care.

Transgender minors who have been prescribed puberty blocking drugs or hormone treatments before Aug. 28 this year, would be exempt from the ban.

Surgeries are not included in the exception.

Sen. Mike Moon, who sponsored the bill barring transition-related health care, spoke on that exception Tuesday morning, before the legislation got first-round approval.

“We have allowed for those who are already in the process of transitioning the ability to not be pulled immediately from that,” Moon said.

While that exception ends in four years, the ban on those specific treatments, puberty blockers and hormone treatments, also expires in four years. The ban on surgeries does not end.

“We have gotten to a point where we have a four-year protection. That's a start,” Moon said.

The bill barring transgender athletes from participating in school sports has a wider scope than prior versions.

The legislation would prohibit any transgender athletes, not just transgender girls, from participating in a sport “that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student's biological sex as correctly stated on the student's official birth certificate.”

The ban would apply to students through the collegiate level. It also would apply to public, charter and private schools.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association already has guidelines on sports participation for transgender athletes. The high school association could not immediately be reached for comment on the bill. For college sports, the NCAA has guidelines.

The entire bill on transgender sports participation would expire on Aug. 28, 2027, not just sections of it. However, the expiration dates on both bills could be extended by lawmakers.

While no Democrats spoke against the legislation right before the first-round approval votes, they spent over 12 hours Monday through Tuesday morning filibustering one bill that contained both the health care and sports bans.

Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, the chamber’s only openly gay member, spoke during his filibuster shift.

“Not everything is about you getting reelected. Not everything is about scaring your base to drive out voters. We're talking about kids here,” Razer told senators.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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