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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

'It's not about protecting kids': How one trans woman is fighting for her rights in Missouri

Jessica Hicklin sits on a couch with a pool table in the background.
Courtesy of Jessica Hicklin

Updated on April 27 at 10:00 a.m.: A St. Louis County judge has temporarily blocked attorney general Andrew Bailey’s emergency rule. Now, the rule is set to go into effect on Monday at 5 p.m.

The ACLU, Lambda Legal and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner filed a temporary restraining order on Monday to prevent the implementation of the restrictive trans health care rule.

Missouri’s attorney general Andrew Bailey announced an emergency rule two weeks ago that would limit trans children and adult gender-affirming care.

The rule is set to take effect on Thursday, April 27th and expire in February 2024.

Requirements to access care would include three years of documented gender dysphoria, creating a barrier to entry for many trans folks.

At the same time, In the Missouri legislature, bills are currently being debated that would also restrict health care for trans minors.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal already are already challenging this rule through the court system. The two groups filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking a temporary block to Attorney General Bailey’s restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare. The hearing will be held on April 26.

Jessica Hicklin is the vice president of Metro Trans Umbrella Group, an organization that works toward building inclusivity and community for trans people.

While an inmate at Potosi Correctional Center, Hicklin became the plaintiff in Hicklin v Precythe.

She sued the Missouri Department of Corrections for barring access to hormone therapy for people wanting to start their transition while in prison. Hicklin won her case in 2018, and expanded healthcare rights for incarcerated trans people across the state.

I'm 44 years old, and I have no autonomy over my own body. If I was an 18 year old cisgender woman, I can do all of the procedures that I want to have done now without parental consent.
Jessica Hicklin

Jessica Hicklin: People who were there for me the first time are still saying they will take whatever necessary legal actions to make sure that trans folks in Missouri are protected. And I'm going to do my damnedest to help that happen.

You know, it's- last night when the order came out, we were at headquarters just talking to people that no, look, people are fighting. And so my thought is, we will fight for our right to be. I wish people would see it for what it was.

If you just read the order, you can see really quickly, it's just political grandstanding. Didn't even file it. Didn't even file in the official database to make it enforceable. It's enough that'll prevent people from accessing care because caregivers will be afraid. But that's not what it's about.

It's not about protecting kids. It's not about any of those things. It's got such ridiculousness in it, and it's only intended as a political stunt. You know, this is people's lives and the people making those decisions, this doesn't touch them or their family directly. I mean, they don't- they're not dealing with a friend's child or a trans relative.

Cause if they were they would know how much harm they're causing. Which, you know, that argument doesn't get anybody anywhere, because obviously people don't care. And so I would say, just look to the heart of the people doing it.

In Missouri this year, by example, the Missouri legislature filed more bills on preventing trans youth from accessing sports, then there were trans youth playing sports. We're tying up the legislative session of an entire state for a population of 3% Missourians.

But in the meantime, people are- I can walk through my neighborhood and see homeless folks and walk through my neighborhood and see bullet holes in the walls.

And so if you just, I don't care if you support trans rights or not, if you just step back for a second as a Missourian and go: There are a lot of problems why the hell are we wasting our time on this one?

I'm 44 years old, and I have no autonomy over my own body.If I was an 18 year old cisgender woman, I can do all of the procedures that I want to have done now without parental consent.

I can do anything surgically I want to my body. Nobody's questioning it, but nobody has a problem with that. But as a 44 year old woman, I have no autonomy nevermind what my constitutional rights says.

Yeah, just please see for what it is. You know, I've got six years of doing this kind of fight. I'm not tired yet. I'm tired of having to do it. But I'm not tired of fighting and I am definitely not the only one.

Katie Quinn works for Missouri Business Alert. She studied radio journalism and political science at the University of Missouri- Columbia, and previously worked at KBIA.
Anna Spidel is a health reporter for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. A proud Michigander, Anna hails from Dexter, Michigan and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University in 2022. Previously, she worked with member station Michigan Radio as an assistant producer on Stateside.
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