On Monday, a judge temporarily blocked Missouri’s unprecedented ban on gender-affirming care for people of all ages, warning that the rule would cause significant harm if it were to go into effect.
Missouri state Attorney General Andrew Bailey drew widespread condemnation when he introduced an emergency rule in mid-April that would ban lifesaving gender-affirming care for minors and adults. The measure, which would be the first in the United States to ban health care for transgender adults, was set to go into effect on April 27.
The rule would require people to wait three years before they can begin receiving gender-affirming care. They would also have to attend therapy for 18 months before qualifying for health care.
In her ruling, Judge Ellen Ribaudo wrote that the people suing to block the rule would “be subjected to immediate and irreparable loss, damage or injury if the Attorney General is permitted to enforce the Emergency Rule.”
What’s more, “its broad, sweeping provisions were implemented without further fact-finding or evidence,” she said.
Bailey’s rule is stayed until May 11, when Ribaudo scheduled a hearing for the lawsuit, unless she extends her order.
“Today’s ruling marks a win for transgender Missourians over an unprecedented attempt by the Attorney General to unilaterally legislate and harm their right to self-expression, bodily autonomy, and access to lifesaving health care,” Gillian Wilcox, deputy director of litigation for the ACLU of Missouri, said in a statement.
Critics argued that Bailey vastly overstepped his position by implementing the rule instead of letting a bill move through the state legislature. “We don’t allow attorneys general to legislate, and we don’t allow them to play doctor,” Tony Rothert, an ACLU attorney, said at a hearing last Wednesday.
Bailey and many other Republicans backing bans on trans health care have argued that the various restrictions are to protect children. In reality, gender-affirming care decreases the amount of depression and anxiety that trans and nonbinary teenagers feel, and it makes them less likely to consider suicide.
Bailey also doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, considering his measure would have targeted adults too. “He’s essentially attacking the entire trans community at this point,” Robert Fischer, spokesman for the LGBTQ rights group PROMO, told the AP when the emergency rule was first announced. “It’s no longer just about children.”