The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

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The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Missouri’s New Anti-Trans Laws

This+chalk+drawing+was+created+and+photographed+months+before+either+of+these+laws+went+into+effect%2C+but+its+message+endures.
Ezri P
This chalk drawing was created and photographed months before either of these laws went into effect, but its message endures.

The Missouri Senate recently passed two new laws, despite opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, that affect transgender children. Laws like these are, unfortunately, no longer surprising. You may be wondering what these new laws are, what they mean for students at Clayton High School, or what you can do to help transgender Missourians affected by these laws. Here is a breakdown of the two new laws (SB49 and SB39): what they are, what they mean for Clayton High School, what happened to the court case challenging them, and what you can do.

SB49 and SB39 are Missouri laws that recently went into effect. SB49, or the SAFE (Save Adolescents From Experimentation) Act, sponsored by Senator Mike Moon, bans healthcare providers from performing gender-affirming surgery, administering hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or administering puberty blockers for medical transition to anyone under 18. Exempt from this restriction are intersex children and perisex minors who had already begun receiving treatment before Aug. 28. 

The contradiction in the former exception lies in the fact that intersex children usually cannot or do not consent to surgeries and/or HRT meant to “normalize” them, often because said surgeries are performed on them as infants. Yet, these procedures are explicitly allowed in an act with the words “Save Adolescents” in its title. The irony of this appears to be lost on the Missouri Senate.

Furthermore, SB49 bans incarcerated people from accessing gender-affirming surgery, and prevents Medicare and Medicaid from covering any transition-related healthcare costs. Violating this law would result in the revocation of one’s medical license and possible legal action. SB39, in a similar vein, bans the students of all Missouri schools from playing on sports teams that do not align with the sex listed on their birth certificate, except in the cases of girls wanting to play sports in a school that only has boys’ teams. Any school found to be in violation of this law will have all state funding revoked, similar to Secretary Ashcroft’s proposed Rule 15 CSR 30-200.015. SB39 was sponsored by Senator Holly Rehder. Both SB39 and SB49 will expire on August 28th, 2027. 

“SB49 is a bill that criminalizes gender-affirming healthcare in the form of most medications and surgeries [for] youth, [. . .] prisoners, and people on Medicaid and Medicare. SB39 bans transgender people from playing in sports teams that align with their gender instead of their biological sex,” senior and transgender woman Chelsea Freels said.

In July 2023, the Missouri American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a preliminary injunction on behalf of several families of transgender children, arguing that SB49 was unconstitutional according to the Missouri constitution. They argued that SB49 enforced discrimination based on sex due to its restriction on which medications and surgeries could be administered to certain Missouri citizens based on which sex they were assigned at birth. For example, under this law, a cisgender teenage boy with gynecomastia could undergo a double mastectomy, but a transgender teenage boy would be barred from the same procedure.

The week before SB49 took effect, a hearing was held for the ACLU’s injunction. The judge ruled against the ACLU, halting their case and allowing the law to take effect. Freels, upon hearing the news of the hearing, was not surprised. “It was bound to happen– there’s been a lot of precedents for challenges like ours getting overturned. [I’m] disappointed, of course, but it was not necessarily a surprise,” she said.

SB49 and 39 target Missouri’s youth specifically, meaning that they are uniquely relevant to the student body of CHS. SB49 is relevant only to those students under 18, but SB39 affects everyone across grade lines. 

“[SB49] means that trans students under 18 will be unable to get gender-affirming care if they are not on it already, and if they’re already on it, it’s fine because it’s going to get grandfathered in. SB39 means that anybody who wants to play sports on a team that aligns with their gender, if their gender is different from their biological sex, then they are going to not be able to do that unless Clayton defies the state and [forfeits] its state funding,” Freels said. 

These two new laws are only the newest in a tsunami of anti-queer laws passed nationwide. Eighty-three laws have been passed in the past eight months of 2023 alone, compared to 26 passed throughout 2022. Missouri’s politicians are simply joining the wave of reactionary backlash, possibly in pursuit of publicity or votes, possibly out of genuine belief. SB39 uses the same rhetoric used for years of “men invading women’s spaces” and “men transitioning to gain advantages in women’s sports” with the same characteristic lack of evidence or examples. 

SB49 speaks in the same euphemisms of “protecting children” that have been used for over a century to hinder the progress of marginalized peoples; anti-suffragists argued that women with political power would not properly care for their children, homophobes argued and still argue that gay couples are a danger to adopted children, and racists in the Jim Crow era argued that segregation in schools was necessary to protect white schoolchildren. There is nothing new about SB39 and 49 in terms of political rhetoric.

The majority of CHS’ student body are minors and thus unable to vote, the primary method by which Americans interact with the political system. Without this ability, how can the students of CHS support and fight for their transgender peers in the wake of these laws? 

We lost this battle, but there’s going to be more to come.

— Chelsea Freels

“It’s really just showing up for the queer community when we ask for it. Next year, there’s going to be bills that are going to be heard in Jefferson City. You can go to the capitol, you can testify in person, [and] sometimes there’s a virtual option where you can submit your testimony forms. (. . .) Remember that the more marginalized identities people have, the more they’ll need help,” Freels said.

According to Columbia psychologist Dr. David Tager, these laws will have terrible effects on many teenage Missourians’ mental and physical health. 

Says Tager: “I see trans folk who are older; they’ve been going through the process of transitioning, and some of them transitioned at age 16. And if they didn’t have that, I don’t know if I’d still be seeing them [alive] now.” 

Those in power are overwhelmingly in favor of using transgender children as a political scapegoat. In the current climate, the efforts to legalize discrimination against transgender people will almost certainly continue to escalate. Despite all of this, however, Freels expresses optimism for the future of the queer community in Missouri.

“It doesn’t mean too much for the queer community. I mean, sure, we lost this battle, but there’s going to be more to come. (. . .) It’s going to be fine. And for trans people who are like me earlier this year– for reference, I’m a white trans woman– who view this as the end of the world, that is coming from a white-centric perspective. Other communities have it worse, and those communities have survived. We will survive, too.”

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Ezri Perrin, Reporter
Ezri Perrin is a senior at Clayton High School and a reporter for the Globe. They have been with the Globe since freshman year. They are passionate about Star Trek, human rights, environmentalism, and the English language. They have enjoyed writing since they were a child.
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