Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a pair of bills into law banning transgender health care for minors and restricting athletes’ participation in sports to teams that match their biological sex.
In signing the bill, the Republican governor said Missouri was standing up "to the nonsense" and stands with women and girls who have "fought for an equal opportunity to succeed."
Parson also said the bill was meant to "protect children from making life-altering decisions that they could come to regret in adulthood once they have physically and emotionally matured."
Starting Aug. 28, Missouri health care providers won't be able to prescribe sex change surgeries for teens and children. Most adults will still have access to transgender health care under the law, but it won’t be covered under Medicaid.
Major medical organizations have opposed the bans and supported medical care for youth when administered appropriately. Lawsuits have been filed in several states where bans have been enacted this year.
The bills have infuriated trans rights proponents. Shira Berkowitz, of Missouri’s LGBTQ+ advocacy group PROMO, alleged that the governor had shown "just how little Missouri’s state government values LGBTQ+ lives and, in particular transgender and gender-expansive youth."
Missouri House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade accused the governor of persecuting "innocent families who are just trying to live their lives in peace."
The ACLU of Missouri said the bills will be "devastating for trans people of all ages" and vowed to "explore all options to fight these bans and to expand the rights of trans Missourians."
Missouri's bans come amid a national push by conservatives to put restrictions on transgender and nonbinary people, which alongside abortion has become a major theme of state legislative sessions this year.
At least 20 states, including Missouri, have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.
Federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas, and Oklahoma has agreed to not enforce its ban while opponents seek a temporary court order blocking it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.