Updated Mar 23, 2023 - News

Georgia's ban on transgender care for minors becomes law

Illustration of the Georgia State Capitol building and snippets of legislative text from SB 140.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a ban on gender affirming health care for transgender minors Thursday.

  • This comes after state Republican lawmakers gave it final approval on Tuesday.

Driving the news: The bill prohibits doctors from administering hormone therapy or transition-related surgery to Georgia minors — one of more than 100 bills targeting LGBTQ health care nationally identified by the ACLU.

  • It will go into effect July 1, and minors who are already receiving hormone replacement therapy at that time will be grandfathered in.

What we're watching: The Justice Department challenged a similar bill passed last year in Alabama and a federal judge granted an injunction to halt part of its implementation. State Sen. Sally Harrell (D-Atlanta), who has a transgender child, warned colleagues the bill would be unconstitutional.

  • Amanda Kay Seals, a University of Georgia law professor of sexual orientation and gender law told Axios she expected Georgia's law to be "vulnerable to many of the same challenges" as its Alabama counterpart.

What they're saying: Kemp in a statement said the bill would "protect the health and wellbeing of Georgia's children," echoing the sentiments of the bill's Republican supporters.

  • State Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele), the bill's sponsor, told colleagues on Tuesday: "We're doing the right thing by protecting the children."

The other side: State Sen. Kim Jackson (D-Stone Mountain) argued the House version of the bill opens medical professionals up to criminal liability and lawsuits for prescribing any such treatment.

  • Jackson called it "grossly disgusting" and accused her colleagues of "using children as pawns...under the guise of compassion."

Threat level: Major medical organizations including the American Medical Association have declared gender-affirming health care "medically necessary" and confirmed that it has "positive health effects" for children and adolescents, too.

  • "Individuals with gender dysphoria who have undergone no gender confirmation treatment are twice as likely to experience moderate to severe depression," the AMA has found.

Flashback: Kemp last year pushed legislation to ban trans high schoolers from playing on sports teams that match their gender identities.

Between the lines: The bill has been vocally opposed by transgender rights activists during its progression through the state Capitol. One trans Georgia college student, Leonardo Hinnant, testified lawmakers would have "blood on their hands" from the suicides of transgender minors because of the bill.

  • A group of more than 500 medical professionals signed a letter in opposition, saying they were "appalled" by "such disregard for standards of medical care."

Summers told Axios in a prior interview he doesn't think suicides will increase among transgender minors as a result.

  • "I don't believe that. But you know, I hope and pray that's not the case," he said.

Editor's note: This article was updated on March 23 to reflect the governor signing the bill into law, and to correct that it will go into effect July 1, not immediately.


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