Judge grants temporary restraining order against Missouri Attorney General’s anti-transgender rule

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Silhouettes of people in the transgender flag colors
Transgender image by Gerd Altmann

Rule prevented from going into effect until lawsuit is adjudicated

Judge Ellen H. Ribaudo of the 21st Judicial Circuit granted a temporary restraining order against the implementation of Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s extreme restrictions on gender affirming care for trans people of all ages.

Lambda Legal, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, filed a petition seeking a temporary restraining order against the Attorney General shortly after he filed an emergency rule on April 13 that imposed severe restrictions on all trans people seeking gender affirming care.

The lawsuit, Southampton Community Healthcare v. Bailey, was filed on behalf of Southampton Community Healthcare, Kelly Storck, Logan Casey, and the families of two transgender adolescents.

In her order, Judge Ribuado stated that the “plaintiffs have met their burden to show that they will be subjected to immediate and irreparable loss, damage, or injury if the Attorney General is permitted to enforce the Emergency Rule, and its broad, sweeping provisions were implemented without further fact-finding or evidence.”

“We are immensely gratified by today’s ruling, which strikes a blow against this outrageous attempt to ban gender-affirming care for broad categories of transgender people of all ages,” Nora Huppert, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal said. “We will continue to fight for our clients and for all transgender people in Missouri until this dangerous and unprecedented policy is set fully aside, and we will not be deterred by any attempt to shield this policy from the scrutiny of Missouri’s courts.”

The order, which was determined on May 1, came after a hearing in St. Louis County Circuit Court, following a federal judge’s rejection of the Missouri Attorney General’s last-minute efforts to have the case transferred to federal court. Once the case was sent back to state court, a new hearing was scheduled within hours to address the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order. After that hearing concluded, the Court stayed the Attorney General’s Emergency Rule until later that evening in order to consider the request for a temporary restraining order.

“We thank the Court for understanding the urgency of temporarily stopping enforcement of the Attorney General’s emergency rule that would have immediate impacts on the way we provide care to our patients,” Southampton Community Healthcare’s Dr. Michael Donovan said. “Without this halt on the baseless and discriminatory rule, our practice would have been forced to grapple with how to provide ethical medical care to our transgender patients in a way consistent with our obligations under a rule that places illogical barriers to necessary care.”

Gender-affirming care is not only evidence-based, but is also supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, decades of clinical experience, and the medical consensus of major medical organizations in the United States. The plaintiffs argue the Attorney General’s ban goes against these medical consensuses. 

“Today’s ruling marks a win for transgender Missourians over an unprecedented attempt by the Attorney General to unilaterally legislate and harm their right to self-expression, bodily autonomy, and access to lifesaving health care,” Gillian Wilcox, Deputy Director of Litigation for the ACLU of Missouri said. “As was clear from the beginning, the Attorney General’s claim of an emergency was proven an untruthful and dangerous attempt to get involved in individual and family medical decisions, showing that he will attack the very people he’s supposed to serve and protect.”

The court set a hearing for preliminary injunction for May 11. The temporary restraining order will expire on May 15.