2 transgender boys sue after University of Missouri halts gender-affirming care to minors

Two transgender boys are suing the University of Missouri over its decision to stop providing gender-affirming care to minors. They fear a new state law could cause legal trouble for its doctors.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court, alleges the university discriminates against teens based on their diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Missouri’s new law, which went into effect on August 28, banned puberty blockers, hormones and gender confirmation surgery for minors. But there are exceptions for young people who were already taking these medications before the law went into effect, allowing them to continue receiving that health care.

The lawsuit said the teens, identified only by their initials, should fall under that “grandfather clause” and continue to receive treatment.

University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said Friday that the four-campus system is reviewing the lawsuit and is not in a position to discuss it.

Asked about it Thursday after a meeting of the Board of Trustees, university President Mun Choi said the school’s position was that it would “follow the law of the land.”

University of Missouri Health Services stopped providing treatment for minors in August. The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital followed suit in September, saying the law “creates unsustainable liability for health care professionals.”

The problem the institutions cited is that health care providers who violate the transgender health care law could face revocation of their medical licenses. In addition, any provider who prescribes puberty blockers and hormones as a form of gender-affirming care for minors for up to 15 years after they turn 21 could face lawsuits from those patients.

“Providers can be held liable for damages even if they have done nothing wrong or unreasonable,” Basi said at the time.

But since the announcement, neither teenager has been able to find other health care providers in Missouri willing to refill their prescriptions. In February, KJ will no longer have puberty-delaying drugs and JC will no longer have testosterone, the lawsuit said.

Without the lawsuit it would be “very traumatic” and cause “serious emotional and physical problems.”

J. Andrew Hirth, an attorney for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to an email or phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

But he wrote that the university’s policy change discriminates on the basis of gender and “has nothing to do with the medical judgment of its physicians or the best interests of its transgender patients.”