Ga. Senate passes ban on gender medical treatments for youths

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Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 1:48 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 2:03 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - The Georgia Senate on Tuesday voted to ban most forms of gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.

Senate Bill 140 would prevent doctors from prescribing hormone therapy or performing gender-affirming surgeries on transgender people under the age of 18.

The Senate voted 31-21 on party lines, with Republicans mostly in favor and Democrats opposing the measure.


Supporters say it will help prevent kids from making irreversible changes before adulthood. Opponents say it targets an already marginalized group and poses catastrophic mental health risks.

The bill will now go to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office for final approval.

Andrew Isenhour, a spokesperson for Kemp, wouldn’t say if the Republican governor would sign the bill into law. Opponents said they believe the bill would be an unconstitutional infringement on parents’ rights and vulnerable to being overturned by a court. Judges have at least temporarily blocked laws limiting the treatment of transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama.

Doctors could still be able to prescribe medicines to block puberty under the Georgia bill, but Republicans say restrictions on other treatments are needed to prevent children from making decisions they will regret later.

The bill is part of a nationwide effort by conservatives to restrict transgender athletes, gender-affirming care and drag shows.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, Georgia’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said:

“We are saddened by the Senate passage of SB 140 today. Parents, working in collaboration with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care, should be able to make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare. With an amendment attached to SB 140 that would criminalize medical providers for following established standards of care, this legislation sets a dangerous precedent by putting politics over scientific fact.

He said the group will focus on urging Kemp to veto the measure.

Sen. Ben Watson, a Savannah Republican and physician who helped write the bill, argued that leaving puberty-blocking drugs as an option strikes the right balance, saying: “This is the needle that we have threaded.”

Supporters say transgender youth can then decide to pursue further measures after they legally become adults. But opponents deride that position as harmful.