On June 7, 2023, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed two bills that restrict the rights and health care of transgender people in the state. One of the bills, Senate Bill 49, prohibits minors and some adults from receiving gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers, hormones, and surgeries. The other bill, House Bill 33, prevents transgender girls and women from participating in sports teams that match their gender identity. Both bills will take effect on August 28, 2023.
These bills have been criticized by many civil rights and medical organizations, who argue that they violate the dignity and well-being of transgender people. Gender-affirming care is considered to be safe and effective by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Banning such care could have negative consequences for the mental and physical health of transgender youth and adults.
Supporters of the bills claim that they are protecting children from irreversible decisions and preserving the fairness of women’s sports. However, these claims are not supported by scientific evidence or legal precedent. Studies have shown that gender-affirming care improves the quality of life and reduces the risk of suicide among transgender people. Furthermore, there is no proof that transgender athletes have an unfair advantage over cisgender athletes.
The bills are part of a nationwide trend of anti-transgender legislation in Republican-controlled states. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2023, with at least 35 targeting transgender youth. Some of these bills have already been challenged in court or vetoed by governors.
Missouri’s transgender community and its allies have vowed to continue fighting for their rights and access to health care. They have also expressed solidarity with transgender people in other states facing similar discrimination and oppression.