JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Legislation aimed at the LGBTQ community is once again up for debate at the Missouri State Capitol.
This comes just days following a recent report from a former employee of a St. Louis transgender center. The bills before the Senate Emerging Issues Committee would prohibit doctors from providing gender transition procedures to a minor.
This is the fourth week in a row that bills dealing with LGBTQ issues were heard in a committee hearing. It’s a hot button topic nationwide, and it’s front and center once again in Jefferson City.
“This is nothing against the trans community, it’s nothing against the LGBTQ community, it’s protecting children,” Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, said.
This time, three Republicans, Sens. Moon, Jill Carter, R-Joplin, and Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, want to block transgender children from seeking gender-affirming care.
“You have to be 21 to buy liquor and use recreational marijuana, you have to be 18 to vote, but you can be 10, 12 or 16 years old and know what gender you want to transition to for the rest of your life,” Hoskins said.
Last week, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey launched an investigation into the Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital after a former employee said children were being harmed.
“When I read it, I just said to myself, finally, the cat is out of the bag,” Sen. Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto, said. “And this is being exposed and it needs to be exposed and it needs to stop.”
The whistleblower claimed the program designed to help transgender teens is harming them instead. Washington University issued a statement saying:
“We are alarmed by the allegations reported in the article published by The Free Press describing practices and behaviors the author says she witnessed while employed at the university’s Transgender Center. We are taking this matter very seriously and have already begun the process of looking into the situation to ascertain the facts. As always, our highest priority is the health and well-being of our patients. We are committed to providing compassionate, family-centered care to all of our patients, and we hold our medical practitioners to the highest professional and ethical standards.”
The news of the report was used in arguments during the committee hearing Tuesday.
“We should be directing our anger towards the evil doers, like those a Washington University and others, who are perpetrating this evil upon children,” Moon said.
“Because this is currently under investigation, not a single point in her allegations have been proven true and should not be taken into consideration as we sit here debating this bill,” executive director of PROMO Katy Erker-Lynch said.
The legislation would stop doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones and block surgical transitions.
This hearing came on the same day that another Senate committee approved legislation prohibiting teachers, school administrators and counselors from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation unless they are licensed mental health provider and have permission from the parents. The bill, sponsored by Moon, passed out of committee, but Gannon, joined two Democrats voting no.
Dr. Brandon Barthel told the committee about his experiencing treating transgender adults at the University Health’s LGBTQ Specialty Clinic in Kansas City.
“The government should not intrude into medical practice to stop evidence-based treatment,” Barthel said. “Please let medical care be decided by those that know the best patients, their parents and families and their physicians. The profound change and mood in patients after we start treatment, patients tell me they feel more at home in their bodies they feel more like themselves and they feel at peace.”
The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that is focused on suicide prevention among the LGBTQ youth community. Casey Pick said last year, the organization helped more than 4,300 youth in the state of Missouri alone.
“You should know that these bills, the ones that would strip away the access to their doctor and medicines, are probably the worst,” director of law and policy for the Trevor Project Casey Pick said. “The fact that we are having these conversations, calling trans people and the doctor that serves them ‘evil doers,’ that filters down. The young people we are talking about hear it, and they feel like you’re disgusted by them.”
Senate Bills 164, 236, and 49 were not voted by the committee Tuesday.
Earlier this month, a bill banning transgender women from competing on female sports teams passed out of committee and is now waiting to be debated by the Senate. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Sikeston. Senate Bill 39 says it would prohibit a school district or charter school from allowing a student athlete from competing on a team that is designed for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex, as state on the child’s official birth certificate.
The Missouri High School Activities Association already has a policy in place for transgender athletes. Only allowing transgender girls to play on female sports teams after hormone treatment for a least one year.
Earlier this year, Senate President Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, told reporters that legislation that would ban transgender girls from playing on female sports teams has a good chance of passing the Republican-led legislature this session.