COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The first hearing in a lawsuit challenging the Missouri attorney general's rule restricting transgender medical treatment is set for Wednesday -- a day before the restrictions would take effect.
The ACLU is suing Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey over his emergency rule that would restrict gender-affirming treatments for children and adults.
The emergency rule restricting gender-affirming care is set to go into effect Thursday and will last until Feb. 6, 2024. The ACLU is asking a judge to block the rule before it takes effect.
The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County, includes a Boone County family with a 15-year-old transgender daughter as a plaintiff.
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 said in a statement to ABC 17 News on Tuesday that the rule creates safeguards for people seeking treatment.
“Rather than ensure that patients are protected by common sense safeguards, these organizations are racing to court in an effort to continue their ideologically-based procedures masquerading as medicine," Bailey said.
The ACLU called Bailey "extreme." Lambda Legal, ACLU of Missouri and Bryan Cave Leighton LLP are litigating the lawsuit together. Nora Huppert with Lambda Legal told ABC 17 News these rules will ruin care for people who are years into their gender transition.
“And it does so even for people who are adults who are decades into their transitions and would threaten their access to medications that they have taken for decades," Huppert said.
Kara Ingelhart with Lambda Law said the temporary restraining order is a necessary part of the litigation's defense against the emergency rule.
"In order to put in place a block before the rule can go into effect to preserve what we call the status quo," Ingelhart said. "Basically, to preserve what's already happening now, people having access to medically necessary care while we continue to litigate the issue."
Columbia resident Kristopher Caden and his fiancee plan to leave the state if the rule goes into effect this week.
"My fiance who has been on hormones for less than a year would also lose access, because I mean she's not even hit the year criteria. For myself, it's the mental health criteria," Caden said.
Caden said regardless of if the rule goes into effect, Caden is worried about the environment in Missouri for LGBTQ+ people.
"People aren't as open to being out anymore because it's scary," Caden said. "You don't know how people are going to react, because more than anything, even if it doesn't pass, this is bringing up another reason to raise more hate."