© 2022 KRCU Public Radio
Southeast Missouri's NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

On National Day of Silence, MO Groups Push Back Against Anti-Trans Bills

Marchers with Trans Support Flags at Rally
Scott Griessel/Scott Griessel - stock.adobe.com
Marchers waving Trans Support flags at a visibility rally

Silence? Yes. Inaction? No. Today marks the annual Day of Silence, led by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, to raise awareness about the discrimination and harassment LGBTQ+ students face in schools.

Hundreds of anti-trans bills have been introduced across the nation in 2022 alone, including in Missouri.

Katy Erker-Lynch, executive director of PROMO Missouri, noted one bill the Legislature is considering would prohibit gender-affirming health care for trans children, and another would ban transgender girls from participating in girls' sports.

"It's not really about saving women's sports," Erker-Lynch asserted. "It's about discrimination. So it's really, 'OK, can we ban kids from athletics? Can we ban kids from health care?' And the question that really begs, is whether LGBTQ+ people should be treated fairly across all areas of life."

Last week, the Missouri House advanced the school sports bill by including it in a separate bill on how elections are run. Missouri is also among the states introducing legislation similar to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, which prohibits including topics around gender identity and sexual orientation in school curricula.

In addition to being discriminatory, Erker-Lynch added the health care bill represents a gross misunderstanding about what gender-affirming care really is. According to psychologists and pediatricians, it starts with mental health care, and can include treatments like puberty- or hormone-blockers.

But despite language in the bill regarding surgeries for minors, it's not the care trans kids get, experts maintained. Whether to undergo a gender confirmation surgery is a decision they make as adults.

"The fact of the matter is denying best practice medical care and support to transgender youth can be life-threatening," Erker-Lynch asserted. "Politicians are playing a really dangerous game with the health care and mental wellness of trans youth."

She pointed to studies showing this type of care saves lives. Trans and nonbinary youth experience anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation at far higher rates than their cisgender peers.