“Where is this happening?” I asked. “Where are these cases?”
Mr. Moon covered up. “Well, he’s coming to Missouri,” he said, and then named a hospital in Kansas City that, he said, “was doing transgender therapy to 2- and 3-year-olds.”
“What therapies?” I asked.
“Are you sure?”
“I mean, don’t quote me on that,” she said.
Parents, Mr. Moon stressed, can’t just do whatever they want with their children. For example, they cannot hit their own children. (Another legislator pointed out to me that parents cannot give their young children cigarettes and alcohol.)
But doctors recommend treatments, I said.
“Maybe the doctors are wrong,” Mr. Moon replied.
Even if they were, I said, do you deal with it by legally going after the families? Why not take it up again in the academies, with the doctors themselves?
“It could take 20 years,” he said indignantly.
I asked Mr. Moon if all this attention to a small number of transgender children made sense given the serious problems faced by so many of the state’s children.
Missouri’s foster care and child care systems are notoriously chaotic: In late January, the head of the child welfare agency warned lawmakers that the state had, in fact, “legally orphaned” about 1,500 children cutting ties with their biological parents when there were no new families to adopt them. An estimated 18 percent of Missouri children live in poverty, and teacher shortages have forced many schools to shrink to just four days of instruction a week.
It was all negative, agreed Mr. Moon. However, he insisted, transgender care of minors must be banned. Arkansas, Alabama, Utah and South Dakota recently passed laws prohibiting or severely limiting such treatments for minors. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas sidestepped lawmakers, issuing direct instructions to state agencies that gender-affirming care was “child abuse” and parents who permit it should be investigated. At the urging of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida state medical board has banned gender-affirming treatments for minors.