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Families of transgender children and advocacy groups sue to block a Missouri law banning most gender-affirming care for minors

<i>Patrick Semansky/AP/File</i><br/>Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington
Patrick Semansky/AP/File
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington

By Andy Rose, CNN

(CNN) — Three families with transgender children have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to block a new Missouri law that would ban gender-affirming care for most minors in the state starting next month.

The law, dubbed the “Missouri Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act,” is scheduled to go into effect August 28 and will ban health care providers from performing gender transition surgeries for those under 18 years old. Puberty blockers and hormone treatments for minors will also be banned, but the legislation makes an exception for those who begin receiving treatment before the law goes into effect.

Two of the children named in the lawsuit say they have begun puberty-delaying medical treatment, but have not yet begun hormone therapy, which would be prohibited until the age of 18 unless it starts before the law goes into effect. The children, identified only by their initials, include C.J., a 13-year-old transgender boy, and A.K., a 14-year-old transgender girl.

Another child, identified as Nicholas Noe, is a 10-year-old who identifies as male.

“We are frightened and outraged at Missouri’s assault on our rights as parents to seek necessary health care for our children,” the families said in a written statement released by their legal team. “It places the health and well-being of our children at great risk. It must be stopped.”

“The Minor Plaintiffs will be prevented from obtaining medically necessary and evidence-based care in coordination with their families and doctors,” states the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Cole County Circuit Court by Lambda Legal, the ACLU of Missouri and the law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner on behalf of the families and advocacy groups.

The lawsuit asks a judge to block the law to “to avoid the permanent and potentially extremely serious negative health consequences for the Minor Plaintiffs and for transgender adolescents across Missouri.”

Gender-affirming care consists of medical, surgical and mental health services. Major medical organizations believe it is medically necessary for transgender and nonbinary people to help them transition from their assigned gender – the one the person was designated at birth – to their affirmed gender, the gender by which one wants to be known.

At least 19 states have passed laws restricting access to gender-affirming care for children and teenagers, including several enacted this year as the country faces a record-shattering wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation.

While some states have enacted laws that can punish health care professionals who provide gender-affirming treatment to minors with prison time, others have built in limited exceptions for minors to continue medication-based or nonsurgical forms of care, according to a CNN analysis of data from the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank that advocates for equal opportunity for all.

The Missouri law could put health care providers at risk of losing their license if they provide the treatment to minors.

“The performance of a gender transition surgery or the prescription or administration of cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs to an individual under eighteen years of age … shall be considered unprofessional conduct and any health care provider doing so shall have his or her license to practice revoked by the appropriate licensing entity or disciplinary review board with competent jurisdiction in this state,” the law states.

“There are zero FDA approvals of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones that treat gender dysphoria in children,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, said in a statement on social media. “We’re not going to let left-wing ideologues experiment on children here in the state of Missouri,” he added.

Bailey filed an emergency rule in April seeking to impose severe restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors and most adults in the state. He later withdrew the emergency rule after state lawmakers passed their own ban.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Annette Choi and Will Mullery contributed to this report.

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