EXCLUSIVE — Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey says his office’s recent move to regulate clinics that offer gender transition procedures and drugs to minors is about safeguarding children from experimental treatments.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Bailey, a Republican, said the new emergency regulations he issued Monday clarifying that state law prohibits gender transition procedures for children without “specific guardrails” are about “protecting the children.”
“An emergency rule is absolutely necessary in this period in order to protect kids from what we view as dangerous experimental procedures and social experimentation masquerading as medicine,” Bailey said.
The emergency regulation, which declares the prescription of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers for minors to be experimental, requires a child’s parents to be informed of the experimental nature of the drugs, potential side effects such as brain swelling and blindness, and that such treatments for minors have been restricted in European countries such as Sweden.
“What we’ve done is we’ve promulgated an emergency rule that first and foremost requires providers to adhere to certain standards,” Bailey said. “They need to be doing psych assessments, they need to retain informed consent documentation, they need to track the adverse effects of the treatments like they would with any other kind of treatment, but secondly, it’s going to require genuine real parental informed consent. And that means an acknowledgment that these puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are not [Food and Drug Administration] approved, they can cause certain long-term problems, and that they are experimental drugs.”
“The parents need to understand that before they’re consenting to the children undergoing these types of procedures,” he added.
The regulation is the latest effort from Bailey to halt gender transition procedures in the state. Last month, in response to a whistleblower affidavit, he launched an investigation into the Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for prescribing puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones for children without parental consent.
The whistleblower, former clinic manager Jamie Reed, accused the clinic of having lax protocols, ignoring underlying health conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, and autism in patients, and failing to disclose information on side effects of treatments in an op-ed last month.
“This is an individual who identifies as a progressive, who’s married to a trans man who asked to work as a case manager at a pediatric transgender clinic because they believe in and support transgender rights,” Bailey said. “And so when that whistleblower comes forward and says that what’s going on is frightening and dangerous and constitutes child abuse, we’ve got to take those allegations seriously.”
A number of Republican-controlled states have advanced legislation in recent months that would ban children from receiving gender transition drugs such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, as well as gender transition surgeries. Bailey said he would like to see similar legislation enacted in Missouri.
“At the end of the day, when a kid comes in with gender dysphoria, [that] is a mental health problem,” he said. “We need to be treating it like other mental health problems with psychiatry and psychology, not racing to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and ultimately irreversible surgeries that are dangerous.”
“I also believe that gender is an objective reality defined by biology and it is unhealthy to deny objective reality in the same way that it’s unhealthy to deny the objective reality of the law of gravity,” he continued. “And so we’ve got to reset the conversation on this. This emergency rule is the attorney general’s office standing in the gap right now to provide safety to children, and a more long-term solution needs to come from the General Assembly.”
Bailey’s emergency regulation has drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union in Missouri, which accused him of trying to enact a ban on “life-saving health care.”
“This politician’s attempt to unilaterally legislate is both dangerous and reckless,” the organization said. “Instead of leaving personal medical decisions to families and their doctors, politicians in Jefferson City are interfering while ignoring the dangers to transgender individuals. Missourians are tired of it.”