JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s governor is putting pressure on lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at the transgender community.
With two weeks left in session, Gov. Mike Parson is telling the General Assembly to restrict transgender athletes to play on the team that matches the sex on their birth certificate and ban gender-affirming care for minors or else be prepared to come back to work.
“Both of those bills are going to get done,” Parson said Thursday. “I firmly believe and if we don’t get it done in session, we’re going to go right into another session, a special session, to complete both of those.”
It’s been the headline of the legislation and now the governor is telling the General Assembly, it’s a top priority that must get done.
“We just need to get them across the finish line but we’re not going to walk away from this building and those are two priorities I think for most people in this state, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican,” Parson said.
Both chambers have passed their own version of prohibiting doctors from performing surgeries and prescribing puberty blockers or hormone treatments to minors, but the Senate’s bill would allow current parents to continue with treatment once the law would go into effect. The upper chamber’s version also has a sunset, meaning the provision on hormone treatment and puberty blockers expires in four years unless extended by lawmakers.
“The number of folks who are now making claims and starting the process of going down a road of being transgender is higher than it’s ever been and it’s increasing at a dramatic rate,” Senate President Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said.
The Senate’s bill requiring transgender athletes to play on the sports team that aligns with their birth certificate also would expire in four years.
“Look, the odd man out here in obviously the House,” Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said. “The Senate has done its diligence and has done its work. I would reiterate, extremely hard and difficult work that we’ve done. I would argue that the Democrats in the Senate have gone as far as we could possibly go. Period.”
But the House’s version is more restrictive.
“I think for anyone to say that we don’t take it seriously is illusory,” House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said. “We’ve actually passed the House bills over to the Senate that are far more conservative, or at least better suited to protect children.”
The upper chamber is putting it’s foot down.
“I’m saying the House is going to pass our bill,” Rowden said. “We’ve done our work and everything else is hypothetical.”
This comes as a St. Louis County judge temporarily blocked Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s emergency rule restricting gender-affirming care for Missourians.
Parson said Thursday, he’s not interested in apply any law to transgender adults and people are misinterpreting Bailey’s rule.
“You have rights to do what you want, whether everyone agrees with it, as long as its legal, as log as its within the rules of the state,” Parson said. “The attorney general was targeting it towards providers, not adults, not saying adults can’t do this, that was never the scenario that he filed.”
Both the House and the Senate’s each passed their own version restricting transgender athletes, but the lower chamber’s bill is less restrictive, only applying to athletes sixth grade and above. Both bills have requirements for transgender athletes through college.
The St. Louis County circuit judge said Wednesday she needed more time to review the case before deciding whether to issue a temporary restraining order on Bailey’s rule.
The last day of session is May 12.