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Ashcroft backs ban on transgender health care for minors but not for adults

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft speaks in favor of bills that would, in part, ban the teaching of “critical race theory” in schools on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, during an Education and Workforce Development Committee hearing at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft at an Education and Workforce Development Committee hearing in January at the Missouri Capitol.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft joined the latest episode of Politically Speaking to talk about a host of issues, including Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s rules restricting gender-affirming care.

While much of the discussion in the Missouri General Assembly has revolved around banning care including puberty blockers, hormonal therapy and gender reassignment surgeries for minors, Bailey’s rules may affect Missourians who are over 18.

Bailey has said the regulations are aimed at protecting minors from receiving procedures too quickly. However, the regulations do not mention only applying to those under 18. And some groups that advocate for the LGBTQ community contend some of the regulations are so onerous that they amount to a de facto ban.

Ashcroft’s office is responsible for printing rules such as the ones Bailey put forward and must sign off on those classified as an emergency. He said he expects the rules to be fought in court. He supports the restrictions for minors but is opposed to prohibiting such care as hormonal therapies and gender reassignment surgeries for adults.

“I disagree with it. I don’t think people should do it. But there’s a difference between what I think and where I think the government should be involved,” Ashcroft said. “If you’re an adult and you want to spend your own money, I disagree with you. But it’s not my place to tell you that you can’t.”

Here’s what else Ashcroft talked about on the show:

  • He is not a fan of the Senate’s version of the gender-affirming care ban. He doesn’t think the measure should expire after four years or exempt minors who are currently receiving certain medical treatments.
  • He is opposed to adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. That proposal, known as the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, was discussed in a committee hearing earlier this year.
  • He panned legislation creating an open enrollment process for schoolchildren, saying it doesn’t go far enough. 

Ashcroft is an attorney and engineer who was first elected secretary of state in 2016. He was reelected in 2020 by a wide margin.

He officially jumped into the 2024 gubernatorial race earlier this month. That puts him on a collision course with Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and possibly state Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles County. On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade is considering a run to succeed Gov. Mike Parson — who cannot seek election again due to term limits.