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Mid-Missouri transgender community considers next steps as emergency rule nears


Just last week, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey issued the official guidelines of an emergency rule restricting certain types of gender-affirming care unless a list of requirements is met. After filing, the restrictions are set to go into effect Thursday, April 27 and could last through Feb. 6, 2024.

The Attorney General’s office has clarified the rule applies to both children and adults seeking “experimental interventions to treat gender dysphoria.” According to the language of the rule, this would include, “puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones or surgery, for the purpose of transitioning gender, decreasing gender incongruence or treating gender dysphoria."

With days until the emergency rule goes into place, those who will be affected by the restrictions have to decide how to move forward on a few weeks' notice.

“All of us are scared,” Oliver A. said. “Everybody's scared, everyone's angry, and a lot of us are talking about leaving.”

Oliver, who wasn’t comfortable sharing his last name, has lived in the Columbia area with his partner for about seven years. The pair are both on gender-affirming hormone therapy, HRT, but restrictions from the emergency rule could restrict their ability to receive care.

Once enough is saved, both plan to make the move to Minnesota. 

“I don't want to leave,” Oliver added. “I don't think it's safe for us to stay in Missouri… our doctors are fearful and they're compliant, they're changing their policies, they're turning us away.”

When Ember Mountain of Columbia first started on estrogen and testosterone blockers last year, she said she immediately felt a change. 

“There's just no words to describe the kind of doors that opened into looking at myself and in my relationships,” Mountain said. “I became a better partner. I became a better parent. I just have been so inexplicably happy since... to have that idea of all of that just being taken away is really hard.”

Mountain’s son is also transgender and came out when he was 11.

“I worry about turning back into the person I was before,” Mountain said. “Being angry all the time, not understanding why I was so unhappy all the time… there's going be an extra layer of anger and fear on top of that if I have to go back.”

Kristopher Carden has lived in Missouri his whole life. The idea of moving out of state is “terrifying” but could be the only option to continue to receive gender-affirming care for himself and his fiance he said.

“Columbia has been the only place that I would consider a home,” he said. “And that's even feeling like it's being taken away…this is where my family is, this is where my only friends I have are.”

He said restrictions could impact the mental health of the transgender community too.

“People aren't as open to being out anymore because it's scary,” Carden said. “Most of the people I surround myself with are within the community and everyone basically been, I guess going back into a hole, it feels like we're losing progress.”

For others though, leaving the state isn’t an option.

“We have a lot of roots here in Columbia,” Nancy Wright said. “I'm raising five kids… I’m a mom. I care about my babies and I’m going to fight for them.”

Wright’s 16-year-old leans non-binary, transmasculine and genderfluid. For the past year and a half, Wright and her child have been working with a therapist and endocrinologist toward getting on testosterone.

However, restrictions from the emergency rule could push back the process further. Wright said news of the rule took a toll on her child’s mental health. Over the next few months, she added she worries for the 16-year-old’s “heart and their mind.”

“It's really terrifying and I don't want any other parent to have to feel that,” Wright said. “We love and we grow and we help to like nurture and create these beautiful creatures. I strongly feel that if my kid can get HRT, it will really help reduce their physical dysphoria, reduce their depression and anxiety and increase their comfort and their success.”

Mountain said they were in a similar situation, uprooting her kids from school isn’t an option. For now, there’s a countdown until the rule goes into place.

“I don't know how I'll be able to survive it," Mountain said.

“As Attorney General, I will protect children and enforce the laws as written, which includes upholding state law on experimental gender transition interventions,” Bailey wrote on Twitter in late March.

Recently, the office said they’re also continuing their investigations into pediatric transgender health care in the state.

The investigation started in February after a former employee of the Washington University Transgender Center said the clinic is too quick when prescribing hormones or puberty blockers. That employee also said the clinic hasn’t done enough to inform parents and kids about any negative side effects.

Those claims caught the attention of Bailey, who launched an investigation into the center which grew to cover the entire state. Toward the end of March, the office opened a “tip line” which was open to the community.

The office encouraged anyone with experiences of misconduct to submit a report, but that tipline is now temporarily unavailable

A spokeswoman from the office told the Associated Press Friday that, “far-left activists are trying to impede parents’ ability to shed light on what happened to their children.” She added it’s unavailable while they continue to investigate.

Yesterday, Washington University concluded its own eight-week review and said the reports of poor care against a transgender youth clinic are unsubstantiated. However, over Twitter, Bailey said that the result did not match up with their own investigation and that their office will leave, “no stone unturned.”

“And our own investigation is ongoing,” U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told ABC 17 in March. “We need to get the facts. Every child who is harmed by that clinic needs to get justice and we'll keep after it until we get all the facts.”

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics
emergency rule
gender-affirming care
josh hawley
missouri attorney general

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Abby Landwehr


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