Capitol Beat

A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing a portion of a bill limiting medical care for transgender children.

Judge Sarah E. Geraghty ruled late Sunday that four Georgia families and a national organization of parents with transgender children likely would succeed in a permanent challenge to a provision in Senate Bill 140 that bans hormone replacement therapy for the treatment of gender dysphoria in adolescents. The legislation also prohibits Georgians under 18 from receiving gender-affirming surgery.

Sunday’s ruling will allow the lawsuit challenging the ban on hormone therapy for minors to move forward.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed SB140 last March, voting along party lines. The law took effect July 1.

Supporters characterized the law as a measure to protect children from irreversible physical changes. Opponents, including parents of transgender youth and major medical societies, argued that delaying hormone replacement therapy or surgery until after age 18 would harm vulnerable transgender youths’ mental health.

“This law unapologetically targets transgender minors and denies them essential health care,” civil rights groups representing the plaintiffs wrote in a statement. “The ruling restores parents’ rights to make medical decisions that are in their child’s best interest, including hormone therapy for their transgender children when needed for them to thrive and be healthy.”

The plaintiffs are represented in the case by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

The state will appeal the ruling, said Kara Richardson, spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

“We are disappointed in the judge’s decision and plan to immediately appeal to protect the health and well-being of Georgia’s children,” Richardson said.

The Georgia ruling was the seventh in federal court blocking a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, joining courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Ed. note: In a press release, Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham said of the ruling, “The federal Judge confirms what so many families and transgender youth have been saying all along: that bans against healthcare are harmful, dangerous, discriminatory, and illegal. It is our hope that this loss, and its echoes all over the country, along with overwhelming public opposition, will discourage any further legislative action targeting trans folks when the General Assembly convenes again in January.” Graham also thanked the families for coming forward: “Georgia Equality is grateful to the families and transgender young people for bravely seeking justice, and to our partners at the ACLU of Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for their work on this important case.”

Previous coverage of SB 140:

March 20, 2023: “Ban on trans kids’ medical care passes GA House”

Dave Williams is Capitol Beat bureau chief.

Leave a comment