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Two students sue University of Missouri for denying trans-related healthcare

Two students sue University of Missouri for denying trans-related healthcare  

The University of Missouri Photo: Shutterstock

Two transgender male students — identified only as J.C. and K.J. — are suing the University of Missouri (MU) for denying them access to gender-affirming healthcare. The university stopped providing such care to minors in August after Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed a ban on the practice.

Though the state’s ban allows minors to continue getting transitional care if they were already receiving it — just like the students were — many groups have stopped providing such care altogether to avoid legal repercussions. The students say MU’s denial harms their well-being and violates federal laws against sex- and disability-based discrimination.

Both J.C. and K.J. began receiving gender-affirming care through MU last year. However, neither boy has been able to find another transitional healthcare provider since MU began denying their treatments.

“Untreated gender dysphoria often intensifies with time,” said J. Andrew Hirth, an attorney for the two trans boys, according to The Kansas City Star. “The longer an individual goes without adequate treatment, the greater the risk of debilitating anxiety, severe depression, self-harm, and suicide.”

“After a year of watching [J.C.’s] body start to reflect his male gender identity, the sudden reversion to feminine characteristics will be deeply traumatic,” the lawsuit states. “After the promise of going through puberty as a boy, [K.J.’s] sudden development of female characteristics will cause K.J. severe emotional and physical distress,” it continues.

Their lawsuit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against MU’s policy. The plaintiffs allege that MU continues to provide gender-affirming medications to minors who aren’t trans. As such, MU’s policy discriminates on the basis of sex and disability, violating federal anti-discrimination protections, the lawsuit alleges.

Universities, like MU, that accept federal financial assistance are required to follow federal law, including the 2010 Affordable Care Act, a federal healthcare law that forbids the denial of healthcare on the basis of sex, gender identity, and gender expression.

Missouri’s ban threatens to revoke the licenses of any healthcare providers who provide transitional care to minors. The ban was challenged in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU filed its suit on behalf of three trans minors, a St. Louis health care center, and LGBTQ+ organizations, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Upon signing the law, Parson wrote, “We must protect children from making life-altering decisions that they could come to regret in adulthood once they have physically and emotionally matured.”

The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all said that gender-affirming care is safe, effective, and essential to the well-being of trans minors and adults.

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