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LGBTQ advocates, medical providers continue to speak out on Missouri's new law ending gender-affirming care for minors

Advocates say their biggest worry is that Missouri lawmakers would try to turn the law permanent by eliminating its sunset clause.

ST. LOUIS — Both Washington University Transgender Center and University of Missouri Health Care have stopped gender-affirming healthcare services for all transgender minors. Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region is still providing care within compliance of the law.

WashU said providing care like puberty blockers and hormones, could put it at a risk for lawsuits. Minors prescribed puberty blockers or hormones before August 28th would qualify under the new law to continue treatments but the university says it could put them at risk for legal challenges.

Both LGBTQ advocates and medical providers are continuing to speak out on Missouri's law that prohibits the state's healthcare providers from providing puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgeries to minors. 

Their worry is that this law could become permanent when the new legislative session begins. The current law is under a "sunset" which means it is set to expire in four years.

Robert Fischer serves as communications director for PROMO Missouri, an LGBTQ organization that confronts systemic inequities. He said the sunset clause is what LGBTQ advocates will fight.

“(Missouri lawmakers) will take a look at how to take away the sunset clause which keeps this law from being in effect for only four years," Fischer said.

Fischer said the battle began when the conversation started for a preliminary injunction with a circuit court judge.

"Within two weeks of him enacting a preliminary injunction, two of the major transgender healthcare providers in the state have ceased, putting hundreds of people and their livelihood in danger," Fischer said.

Doctors at Planned Parenthood say they're still helping families in need of care.

"We are only seeing folks who are 16 years older and if folks have established care with us already. We will continue to see them or at the healthcare that is closest to them. We also plan to open our doors for folks who are 16 years old who've established care with another provider who may be losing access to care," Dr. Colleen McNicholas said.

McNicholas said that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with the new law.

"I'm heartbroken for Missourians who are in the process of figuring out this gender journey, who with their families have found a reliable provider and have found because the state is attacking them, their family and their healthcare...they're faced with some real serious decisions," McNicholas said.

PROMO Missouri works with various LGBTQ organizations in the city and state. They're continuing to have tough conversations with families with youth in need of gender-affirming care.

"The conversation would be unfathomable if we were talking about everyday healthcare that someone needed," Fischer said.

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