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Missouri attorney general withdraws emergency rule banning transgender health care

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey speaks to The Federalist Society on the Missouri House of Representatives floor Friday. (Annelise Hanshaw/Missouri Independent)
Annelise Hanshaw
Missouri Independent
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey speaks to The Federalist Society on the Missouri House of Representatives floor Friday. (Annelise Hanshaw/Missouri Independent)

The attorney general’s rule impacted adults. Legislation limiting access for only minors awaits Gov. Mike Parson’s signature.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey terminated his emergency rule on gender-affirming care Tuesday — less than a week after the state legislature sent a ban on minors starting treatment to the governor’s desk.

The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit in late April seeking to block Bailey’s emergency rule, alleging the attorney general didn’t have the authority to use the state’s consumer protection law to block access to puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery. A judge put the rules on hold until July, when a hearing is scheduled.

Robert Fischer, director of communications for LGBTQ+ organization PROMO, said the lawsuit “gave hope to the community when there was a lot of uncertainty.”

The now-terminated emergency order would’ve affected adults, a step that caused fear in the LGBTQ+ community, advocates told The Independent. Some began preparing to move out of state when they heard about the emergency order.

Fischer said the emergency rule was harmful to transgender Missourians and the parents of transgender children.

“Along with the entirety of this year’s legislative session, the Attorney General’s emergency rule sparked conversations across households of whether they should remain in Missouri,” he said. “Those aren’t easy to dismiss, especially since trans Missourians have now seen how cruel our state government is.”

A spokesperson for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office said he received the termination paperwork around 4 p.m. Tuesday. The attorney general did not state the reasoning for revoking the order, JoDonn Chaney said, and there was no communication between the two offices prior to receiving the notice.

If Bailey wishes to enact his order, which would set barriers to accessing gender-affirming care, he must restart the process.

Bailey said in a statement that the emergency rule was intended to give state lawmakers time to enact a ban on gender-affirming care.

“We were standing in the gap unless and until the General Assembly decided to take action on this issue. The General Assembly has now filled that gap with a statute,” his statement says. “I’m proud to have shed light on the experimental nature of these procedures, and will continue to do everything in my power to make Missouri the safest state in the nation for children.”

The sponsor of a ban on gender-affirming care and the House carrier for the Senate bill awaiting the governor’s signature Rep. Brad Hudson, R-Cape Fair, said he had “discussed the issue [of gender-affirming care] with the Attorney General’s office” during a press conference.

The attorney general’s office and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said in a statement that Bailey “grossly overstepped his legal authority, and everyone knows it.

“So, it isn’t surprising he withdrew his unconstitutional rule knowing another embarrassing court defeat was inevitable,” she said. “Missourians deserve an attorney general worthy of the office, not one who persecutes innocent Missourians for political gain.”

Fischer said, despite uncertain circumstances, the removal of barriers to care is a “win” for transgender Missourians.

“From the conversations we’ve already had with community members and trans leadership, people are thrilled to see the attorney general terminate his rule especially since it targeted the entire trans community: children and adults. In our eyes, this is a win,” he said.

This story was originally published in the Missouri Independent.

Updated: May 16, 2023 at 8:02 PM CDT
This story was updated with a statement from the Missouri Attorney General's office.
Annelise Hanshaw covers education for the Missouri Independent — a beat she has held on both the East and West Coast prior to joining the Missouri Independent staff. A born-and-raised Missourian, she is proud to be back in her home state.
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