Mar 16, 2023 - Politics

Georgia House approves ban on transition health care for minors

Illustration of a red cross being torn in half.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

A bill to ban hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors in Georgia cleared a major hurdle Thursday when Republicans in the state House approved the measure on party lines.

Why it matters: While the bill still needs final approval by the state Senate before heading to the governor's desk, the 96-75 House vote proves that most Republicans in both chambers support the measure.

  • The Senate passed the bill earlier this month.

The big picture: Major medical organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics consider the treatments banned in the proposal medically necessary and potentially lifesaving for transgender youth.

  • It is one of more than 100 anti-trans health care bills introduced by Republicans in state legislatures this year, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.
  • Gender-affirming surgeries, which are irreversible, are normally offered to adults not minors.

Zoom in: The bill as amended leaves medical professionals criminally liable should any patient decide to sue them after they prescribed the outlined transition-related health care.

What they're saying: Republicans argue that minors are not old enough to make "irreversible" decisions. "We must draw a line for the long-term protection of children," said state Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) on the House floor.

  • "It is our jobs as legislators and as parents to use our accrued wisdom to guide them on the right path so that at some point on their journey they're able to make good and right decisions for themselves on their own," he said.

The other side: Democrats tried in vain to dissuade their GOP colleagues by pointing out a hypocrisy compared to last year's GOP-led laws related to protecting "parents rights" when it came to control over their child's education materials — and whether children must wear masks in school.

  • "What you are talking about today is somebody's child. They're children. You are telling these parents that they are bad parents because they want to take care of their children," said state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), who was the first openly gay lawmaker in the South.
  • "We are being intellectually inconsistent and we are being inconsistent from a policy standpoint," said state Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna).

Threat level: Nearly one in five transgender minors attempted suicide in the past year, according to a 2022 survey by the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention services.

  • 71% of LGBTQ youth — including 86% of trans and/or nonbinary youth — said the debate around state laws "restricting the rights of LGBTQ young people" has negatively impacted their mental health.

Flashback: In committee Tuesday, Leonardo Hinnant, a freshman transgender college student from Georgia told lawmakers: "If this bill passes, transgender kids will die."

  • "Every single representative who votes yes on this bill will have the blood of the children of this state on their hands," Hinnant declared.
  • In response, the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele), told Axios he doesn't think suicides will increase among transgender minors. "I don't believe that. But you know, I hope and pray that's not the case," he said.

Go deeper: Axios Explains: Gender-affirming care in the U.S.

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