Sex & Gender /

Georgia Ban on Transgender Medical Intervention for Minors Partially Blocked by Judge

District Judge Sarah Geraghty left in place a ban on surgical intervention as a treatment option for minors with gender dysphoria

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Georgia from enforcing a law prohibiting doctors from providing hormones to minors with gender dysphoria.

District Judge Sarah Geraghty issued an injunction on Aug. 20, ruling that Georgia’s SB 140 may violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Her ruling left in place the ban on surgical intervention for transgender-identifying minors.

Three transgender-identifying minors, four parents, and a national organization called TransParent appealed to Geraghty after the state legislature passed SB 140. The law went into effect on July 1.

Geraghty said the plaintiffs had “satisfied the merged balance-of-harms and public-interest requirements of the preliminary injunction standard.”

“The Court determines that the imminent risks of irreparable harm to Plaintiffs flowing from the ban—including risks of depression, anxiety, disordered eating, self-harm, and suicidal ideation—outweigh any harm the State will experience from the injunction,” wrote the judge in her 83-page order

“For the minor plaintiffs, time is of the essence, and SB 140’s prohibition may lead Plaintiffs to ‘suffer heightened gender dysphoria’ and associated distress, as well as the unwanted onset of ‘endogenous puberty—a process that cannot be reversed,’” wrote Geraghty. “For the parents, SB 140 disrupts their carefully considered treatment plans for their children, and the Court recognizes that little is so agonizing for a parent as the prospect of their child in serious emotional distress.”

The state cannot enforce the prohibition on hormone replacement therapy for gender dysphoria in minors until another judicial order is issued or pending trial is scheduled.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 140 into law on March 23, arguing that the law would “ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of Georgia’s children.”

“I appreciate the many hours of respectful debate and deliberation by members of the General Assembly that resulted in final passage of this bill,” Kemp said in a statement online. “As Georgians, parents, and elected leaders, it is our highest responsibility to safeguard the bright, promising futures of our kids – and SB 140 takes an important step in fulfilling that mission.”

The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the bill and vowed to review its options in federal and state court.

Politicians should not be making health care decisions that parents, in conjunction with their physicians, are better equipped to make,” said Executive Director Andrea Young, per 11Alive. “The law is a sledgehammer. And this is an area that requires the most delicacy, the most individualized treatment, and that is what is now being prohibited in the state of Georgia.”

Geraghty’s ruling comes roughly five weeks after U.S. District Judge David Hale lifted a temporary injunction on a similar ban enacted in Kentucky. Lawmakers in Kentucky enacted the restrictions as part of the omnibus Senate Bill 150 despite a veto from Governor Andy Beshear. In addition to restricting the medical treatments doctors can offer transgender-identifying minors, the policy also regulates how gender and sexuality can be taught in K-12 schools and which locker rooms students can use. 

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