Judge grants restraining order against Missouri attorney general’s ‘dangerous’ anti-trans rule

Pro-trans activists hold up a 'Trans Rights Now' placard.

A Missouri judge has granted a temporary restraining order against a ruling by the state’s attorney general, which was set to severely limit access to trans healthcare in the state.

On Monday (1 May), 21st Judicial Circuit judge Ellen Ribaudo granted a temporary restraining order to prevent attorney general Andrew Bailey’s earlier, emergency ruling on gender-affirming care. 

Bailey’s ruling, which would make accessing gender-affirming healthcare nearly impossible, was temporarily suspended until 1 May after a hearing in St Louis County Circuit Court on 27 April.

In her order on Monday, Judge Ribuado stated: “Plaintiffs have met their burden to show that they will be subjected to immediate and irreparable loss, damage or injury if the attorney general is permitted to enforce the emergency rule, and its broad, sweeping provisions were implemented without further fact-finding or evidence.” 

A hearing for a preliminary injunction – preventing Bailey’s ruling until the trial is over and the court has issued a judgment – has been set by the court for 1pm on 11 May. 

The temporary restraining order will expire on 15 May. 

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‘Win for transgender Missourians’

Gillian Wilcox, deputy director of litigation for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri said the ruling “marks a win for transgender Missourians”. 

“As was clear from the beginning, the attorney general’s claim of an emergency was proven an untruthful and dangerous attempt to get involved in individual and family medical decisions, showing that he will attack the very people he supposed to serve and protect.”

Nora Huppert, staff attorney at Lambda Legal said of the ruling: “We are immensely gratified by today’s ruling, which strikes a blow against this outrageous attempt to ban gender-affirming care for broad categories of transgender people of all ages.” 

Huppert said Lambda Legal – a civil rights organisation focusing on LGBTQ+ people – will continue to fight for all transgender people in “Missouri until this dangerous and unprecedented policy is set fully aside”. 

‘Baseless and discriminatory rule’

Plaintiff Southampton Community Healthcare’s Dr. Michael Donovan said: “Without this halt on the baseless and discriminatory rule, our practice would have been forced to grapple with how to provide ethical medical care to our transgender patients in a way consistent with our obligations under a rule that places illogical barriers to necessary care.”

The lawsuit – Southampton Community Healthcare v. Bailey – was filed on behalf of Southampton Community Healthcare, clinical social worker Kelly Storck, Logan Casey, and the families of two transgender adolescents. 

‘Exceptionally cruel’

Various legal teams, including Lambda Legal and the ACLU, filed a petition to blockade the emergency order made by Bailey on 13 April which stipulates that those seeking care must go through three years of “long-lasting, persistent and intense” gender dysphoria.

It also requires 15 hours of therapy over 18 months before a diagnosis could be given.

Bailey’s ruling targets both trans adults and trans youth, and stipulates that symptoms of depression and anxiety must be “treated and resolved” before care can be administered.

In a Twitter post, independent journalist Erin Reed described the provisions as exceptionally cruel.

Despite mounting backlash to the provisions, the Transgender Center Concerns Form went live on the website of Bailey in April, urging residents to “submit a complaint or concern about gender transition intervention you have experienced or observed in Missouri”. 

The move was in support of Bailey’s rule, which goes against research that shows gender-affirming care improves the mental health of trans teens

A US-based study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine in January, revealed, unsurprisingly, that its participants reported an increase in positive emotions, life satisfaction and improved self-confidence after being treated with life-changing hormone therapy.