JEFFERSON CITY — Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, cited a study in a hearing Wednesday that the director of the National Institutes of Health referred to as “misleading and incorrect.”

Moon made the reference during a Committee for Seniors, Families, Veterans & Military Affairs hearing on Senate Bill 442, which would prohibit hormone replacement therapy and gender-related surgery for children.

Moon’s reasoning for introducing this bill is that it would “protect already at-risk sexual minority youth from experimental and unproven gender affirming therapy. Gender affirming therapy prematurely medicalizes children for a condition that is overwhelmingly resolved by the time they reach adulthood in about 75 to 90% of those persons.”

That statistic comes from the American College of Pediatricians, a socially conservative advocacy group. Following the publication of the study that included this statistic, Francis Collins, the NIH director at the time, said “the information (ACPeds) present(s) is misleading and incorrect.”

Moon is not alone in his quest to limit transition-related care. Five other states, including Ohio and North Carolina, are also considering similar legislation.

LGBTQ+ activists and allies across the country argue the care is medically necessary, in part, to address gender dysphoria. This dysphoria, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is the mental duress that comes with feeling like the sex assigned at birth does not match what someone knows themselves to be.

Nine-year-old Ella Carmichael and her mother, Molly, were among the nearly two dozen witnesses who were rushed through their testimony by the committee due to scheduling issues.

Molly said her daughter began saying at the age of 3 that she knew she wasn’t a boy. She then questioned why the senators felt the need to regulate her child’s medical care.

Her mother asked, “does Ella’s pursuit of happiness and finding and owning her own identity infringe on any other person’s rights?”

Sarah Garwood and Christopher Lewis, both doctors and co-directors of the Washington University Transgender Center in St. Louis, also testified in opposition to the bill.

Garwood and Lewis both reiterated that their work has proven that “providing gender-affirming care is literally lifesaving.”

Garwood cited a January 2020 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics that found there was a “significant decrease in suicidal ideation when people were given access to (gender-affirming) therapies.”

Garwood said that transition-related care is supported by the guidelines and standards set by groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

“This bill asks us to practice medicine in violation of professional standards of care, and it does not reflect the values of Missourians,” he said.

Joshua Jenkins, a Springfield pastor, testified in support of the bill and said he did not believe children were able to fully understand their medical needs at such a young age.

“I believe this is a commonsense bill to protect our children from long-term, life-altering decisions that they are not prepared to make as children who are not fully developed,” the pastor said.

Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, echoed Jenkins’ sentiment as he questioned Molly Carmichael.

“If she came to you, wanting to tattoo, would you let her get a tattoo?”

Carmichael started, “A tattoo and your individual—”

Brattin interrupted, “Just, if she wanted one?”

“No, because she’s not 18.”

“Should she have the right to vote?”

“Yes, she should have the right to vote.”

“At this age, she should be able to vote for president?”

“Voting and gender identity are absolutely not on the same spectrum.”

“I’m just asking, yes or no, do you think she’s aware enough to be able to make a conscious decision to vote?”

“No.”

“If she wanted to make a choice to play in the streets, and she really felt like that was what was best for her at this particular time, would you allow her to do that?”

“I’m not gonna let her play in the street either. I’m going to educate her.”

As the committee dismissed the Carmichaels, Ella piped up, “I wouldn’t do that.”

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

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