Missouri’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors is officially in effect

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

A ban on gender-affirming care for minors has officially come into effect in the state of Missouri.

The new law, known as the Missouri Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, bars healthcare providers from providing gender-affirming care using evidence-based treatments like puberty blockers or hormones to minors for gender transition purposes unless the minor was already receiving such treatment prior to 28 August 2023. 

It will also prohibit minors from undergoing gender-affirming surgeries, though these are not typically offered to children by healthcare providers.

The law, which will expire in August 2027, warns that any healthcare provider who violates it will have their license revoked.

Gender-affirming healthcare is the age-appropriate treatment that can be provided to transgender and non-binary people to alleviate symptoms of gender dysphoria or distress, and is backed by every major medical association in the US.

Two people walk away from the camera draped in a trans flag
Missouri’s restrictive laws on gender-affirming care are now officially in effect. (SOPA Images via Getty Images)

There is an abundance of evidence that proves this care is medically safe and improves the mental health of eligible candidates who participate. 

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Civil rights union ACLU had sued to overturn the new healthcare ban in an attempt to block it but were left disappointed last week when a judge ruled against them and allowed the law to take effect as planned.

The judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to justify a preliminary injunction as ACLU had requested and that the medical and scientific evidence they had provided the court was ‘conflicting and unclear’.

Although adults over 18 can still access gender-affirming care in the state of Missouri, they are not covered by Medicaid. 

People in correctional facilities are also heavily restricted from receiving treatment.

Commenting on the judge’s ruling, ACLU’s Tom Bastian told PBS: “While we are disappointed in and disagree with the court’s ruling, we will not stop fighting to protect the rights of transgender people in Missouri.

Man holds sign reading "protecting trans youth"
Civil rights union ACLU had sued to overturn the new healthcare ban in an attempt to block it. (Andre J Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images)

“The case is not over and will go to a full trial on the merits.”

Meanwhile, Yamelsie Rodriguez, the CEO of Planned Parenthood in Southwest Missouri, warned: “Trans and gender-expansive young Missourians will have their rights stripped away — unless a higher court intervenes. They are terrified and furious that Missouri politicians are using ideology and junk science to deny them life-saving health care and erase their existence — and we are right alongside them.

“Politicians have no business probing around or dictating what care can be provided in our exam rooms.”

A second law also came into effect this week in Missouri, which heavily restricts transgender student-athletes by requiring them to play on sports teams that align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Missouri is now one of over 20 states that have enacted policies to ban gender-affirming care for minors. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least another seven states are considering introducing similar laws or policies.