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Judge delays attorney general’s transgender rule for two weeks


A St. Louis County judge put a two-week hold Monday on an emergency rule to limit medical care for gender transitions imposed by the state's attorney general.

The rule will be put on hold until May 15, according to the order issued Monday. Another hearing will be held May 11.

A judge last week put the rule on hold until Monday to further consider arguments against it. The rule was set to take effect last Thursday.

Judge Ellen Ribaudo wrote in her ruling that the plaintiffs, who sued to stop the rule, are likely to win the case and that the attorney general's novel use of the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act could be struck down by the courts.

Tony Rothert -- Director of Advocacy for the ACLU of Missouri -- said the way Bailey is attempting to construe that law for this case does not fit. He also added the law has been used for issues such as stopping predatory car-loan warranties in the past, and does not relate to this question at hand.

"t's never been used to interfere with the patient-doctor relationship, and it just doesn't fit," Rothert said. "That's what the judge has noticed and we think will ultimately be the ruling in this case." 

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced emergency regulations last month for gender-affirming care such as the use of puberty blockers for patients of all ages. Bailey has called the procedures "experimental."

The lawsuit filed in St. Louis County includes a Boone County family with a 15-year-old transgender daughter as a plaintiff. The lawsuit is being litigated by Lambda Legal, ACLU of Missouri and Bryan Cave Leighton LLP.

The emergency rule states that “It is unfair, deceptive, fraudulent, or otherwise unlawful” for any health care organization to provide gender-affirming care if the patient:

  • Has not been annually assessed for continuous gender dysphoria 
  • The patient and/or patient's parents have not been informed of all the alleged harms of hormone therapy
  • Provider fails to ensure that the patient has shown and has medically documented proof of a “long-lasting, persistent and intense pattern” of gender dysphoria for three consecutive years
  • Provider fails to ensure that a patient has received a “full psychological or psychiatric
    Assessment” of 15 separate hourly sessions with a therapist (10 of them have to be with the same therapist). These have to be over the course of no fewer than 18 months 

Bailey has told ABC 17 News that the rule creates safeguards for treatment.

Following Judge Ribaudo's decision to impose a temporary restraining order Monday morning, Rothert noted the ACLU is confident it will win the case.

"We've been confident from the beginning that we would win this case," Rothert said. "The attorney general's gross overreach here is so baffling that he thinks he can do this. You know, an unelected official barging his way into doctor's offices where families and where individuals are making decisions with their doctor; and trying to undo decades of peer-reviewed research is just dumbfounding that he would even try. And we're confident that we'll be able to stop this rule"

ABC 17 News reached out to the attorney general's office for comment. As of Monday evening, no one was available.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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