The Missouri Legislature is being asked to ban doctors and their workers from assisting with or doing sex changes to those under 18. Representative Adam Schnelting, R-St. Charles, is proposing to charge them with a felony and yank their professional licenses for providing gender reassignments, hormonal therapy and puberty blockers, which are different from surgically changing genitalia. The Missouri House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing this week on the legislation that would also have parents reported to the state for alleged child abuse for letting their kids have a sex change.

Photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, House Communications

“This proposal simply acts as a roadblock for minors who’ve been placed under pressure – whether it’s peer pressure, whether it’s coercion, whether it’s pop culture,” says Schnelting. “So that way they can reach that decision on their own when they come to adulthood. I believe firmly in parental choice and parent rights.”

Representative Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, argued against the bill backing parental choice.

“Really. I’m sorry but your legislation defies that,” she says.

The committee also heard from Representative Suzie Pollock, R-Lebanon, who is proposing to charge parents with child abuse or neglect for allowing their kids to undergo such services. Pollock is a registered cardiovascular invasive specialist working with heart and circulation issues.

“The side effects for transgender children who undergo these procedures include derility, sexual dysfunction, blood clots, strokes, cardiac disease, osteoporosis, cancer and persistently high rates of suicide,” she says. “Our children are not experimental subjects to use off-label dangerous drugs and procedures on. We must protect our children from being chemically castrated, sterilized and surgically mutilated.”

The line to speak in opposition of the bills was thick and testimony last for roughly a couple of hours. One mother said passage of the legislation would mean lawmakers would have the blood of transgender kids on their hands. Danielle Meert, a mother of a transgender boy, agreed. She said before her son Miles transitioned, he was depressed and struggling in school.

“Since receiving gender-affirming care, Miles is currently on the honor roll. He is thriving and most importantly, he’s alive. If this legislation passes, you will harm my child and children will die,” says Meert.

Shannon Davis, a school psychologist and a mother of a transgender daughter, says before her daughter transitioned, it was like watching her death. Davis says she provides a safe space at school for kids to work out their feelings.

“There are educators who are scared – they are scared to be allies in the schools because they will be targets from parents and administrators. So, while you guys are creating this bill, it makes the educators feel less safe to be allies. You are our leaders. You are the people we look to,” she says. “So if you guys, I’m sorry to say this, feel like bullies, we are more scared to be allies in school.”

Liz Tobin, the mother of a transgender daughter, is a lawyer who has represented children and families in abuse and neglect cases.

“I’ve seen abuse. I’ve seen neglect,” she says. “Providing my child with the standard of care recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists is not abuse.”

Scarlett Wells, a retired disabled Iraq War veteran and a mother of a transgender girl, says she’s proud of her daughter.

“Her courage to live her truth. Her bravery to stand here today. Her perseverance in the face of lawmakers who would call her doctors criminals, who would call her mother, someone who fought for your rights in combat, a child abuser, proves that she is the tallest hero among all of us,” says Wells.

Another message conveyed by some parents is that the families of transgender children and their doctors should be responsible for gender reassignment decisions – not lawmakers.

The committee has not voted on House Bill 1721 or House Bill 2051.

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