Missouri Senate gives first-round approval to transgender youth health care and sports ban
Updated March 21 with Senate advancing the legislation
The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation targeting transgender minors.
That includes a bill that bars transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming health care and another that bars transgender athletes through the collegiate level from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Senate Democrats filibustered the bill for over 12 hours Monday before advancing the bills early Tuesday morning.
Both bills have an expiration date on some of the provisions. The bills have to go through another vote in the Senate before moving on to the House.
Original story from March 20:
The filibustering over legislation targeting transgender minors is continuing in the Missouri Senate.
On Monday night, Democratic senators were filibustering a bill that would both limit transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming health care, like puberty blockers, and stop transgender school athletes from participating in sports that align with their gender identity.
Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, is the sponsor of the legislation. She said the bill allows for children and families to continue with therapy and education but makes them wait until adulthood for further treatment.
“This bill is to put guardrails around a very difficult situation, one that we honestly as a society, certainly as a legislative body, do not know enough about,” Rehder said. “That is why we want to be sure we're moving forward with caution and protection for children.”
Some Republicans took to the floor to express concern that the issues were pulled together in one bill as opposed to passing them as separate issues.
“Yes, let's use this time to negotiate. Let's use this time to come to an agreement on what these two separate bills should look like, separately,” Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, said.
However, most of the floor debate has involved Democrats, who are continuing to filibuster the legislation, as they have for days.
“I wish we weren't doing this, I wish that we would just respect medical providers and their teams and parents and of course, the kids that are here in our state, to work together as a team to decide what is best for their health care,” Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, said.
Continuing debate on these bills brings the Senate right where it left off not quite two weeks ago.
Senators left a day early to begin a weeklong break without advancing a bill that would bar transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming health care. The decision to leave without giving first-round approval to the legislation angered lawmakers who wanted to see it advance before break.
Senators in support of those bills, including former members of the conservative caucus, expressed their discontent on the delay on social media. A statement signed by eight of them said they would use “whatever tools and procedures necessary” to bring the bill up for a vote.
Supporters urged passing the legislation prohibiting transition health care for minors during a rally Monday afternoon inside the Missouri Capitol.
About 150 people heard from both Senate and House members who have either sponsored the bills themselves or are vocal supporters. Speaker after speaker, including Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, pushed for action.
“I’m not wanting to just talk the talk, but I've walked the walk, and I'm ready to stay here every night this week to break the filibuster … and put this into law in the state of Missouri and protect our kids,” Hoskins said.
Due to the rumored presence of hate groups, Katy Erker-Lynch, executive director of PROMO Missouri, which supports LGBTQ rights, discouraged counterprotesting days before the rally. There were some counterprotesters present anyway.
“I realize this might not feel brave or courageous, but I assure you that living out your truth and standing up for your loved ones every single day is an act of bravery and courage,” Erker-Lynch said.
The rally lasted for more than an hour and a half, with supporters eventually waiting outside the Senate lounge to try to persuade lawmakers to keep the bills separate.
Any bill passed would still need to go through the House.