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Parson signs laws limiting transgender care, athletes

by Annelise Hanshaw | June 8, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Julie Smith/News Tribune: Gov. Mike Parson, center, holds up a bill Wednesday after signing it that was carried through their respective chambers by Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, left, and Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City.

A week into Pride month, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation Wednesday banning minors from beginning gender-affirming care and limiting sports participation for transgender athletes.

In a news release announcing his decision to sign the bills, Parson said he supports every person's right to "his or her own pursuit of happiness."

However, he continued, "we must protect children from making life-altering decisions that they could come to regret in adulthood once they have physically and emotionally matured."

Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, sponsored the bill banning minors' access to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or gender-affirming surgeries. After a compromise, his legislation was amended in the Senate to sunset the ban on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones after four years.

Those under 18 who have already begun treatment may stay on their doctor-approved regimens.

The law will take effect Aug. 28.

Parson argues the bill protects "Missouri children from harmful, irreversible treatments and procedures."

"These decisions have permanent consequences for life and should not be made by impressionable children who may be in crisis or influenced by the political persuasions of others," he said.

The law will also prohibit Missouri's Medicaid program MO HealthNet from paying for cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgeries. The current MO HealthNet handbook already states it will not cover gender-affirming surgeries or cosmetic procedures, like hair transplants. It does not mention hormones or puberty blockers.

Incarcerated Missourians will be unable to receive gender-affirming surgeries while in state custody, according to the legislation.

Parson also signed a bill sponsored by Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Scott City, pitched by supporters as an effort to "protect women's sports" by mandating athletes' participation to their sex as assigned at birth.

Since 2012, the Missouri State High School Activities Association has permitted 12 transgender student athletes to compete according to their gender identity.

Conflicting with NCAA policy, the legislation also prohibits college athletes from competing according to their gender identity.

"Women and girls deserve and have fought for an equal opportunity to succeed," Parson said, "and with this legislation today, we stand up to the nonsense and stand with them as they take back their sport competitions."

The legislative efforts, and a now-withdrawn emergency order from the Missouri attorney general, has pushed some LGBTQ+ families in Missouri to move, or consider moving, out of state.

"The governor had a chance to protect innocent families who are just trying to live their lives in peace. Instead he chose to persecute them," House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said in a statement. "The governor could have said 'no' to bigotry and hate. Instead, he embraced it."

"History tends to reflect poorly on oppression and the oppressors, and the stain of this action will not wash away," said Quade, who is openly considering a run for governor next year.

Kansas City and St. Louis signed local orders to combat the effects of state legislation. Springfield recently announced a resolution for Pride month.

"Missouri Republicans in the legislature have now given the government new power to control people they've never met, over an issue they don't understand," said Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City. "When these bills expire in four years, I plan on being there to make sure they never come back."

Parson signed the bills in private Wednesday morning before hosting a ceremony to sign five other bills into law.

"I didn't want to put a lot of attention -- any more attention on it than there had to be on those two bills," he told reporters after the signing ceremony. "I really just didn't want to draw a lot of attention to it either way."

"They were two things that I thought we needed to get done," he continued. "I thought we needed clarification for the people of Missouri and to really know which way we're heading in this state."

The governor said he recognizes some Missourians may disagree with his decision to sign the law. If they leave the state because of it, he said that's their right.

"But I think in the long run, I think it's the right thing to do and then when people become adults they can make decisions," he said.

The Missouri Independent,, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering state government and its impact on Missourians. The News Tribune contributed information in this story.

Print Headline: Laws limiting transgender care, athletes signed Laws would ban gender-affirming care for minors, limit participation of trans athletes


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