Kemp signs bill banning some gender-affirming care for transgender youth

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced on Thursday that he signed a bill banning certain gender-affirming care for minors in the state.

Kemp said he signed Georgia Senate Bill 140 — which prohibits minors from receiving hormone replacement therapies and sex reassignment surgeries to treat gender dysphoria in licensed health care facilities — into law “to ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of Georgia’s children.”

“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 Georgia governor said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Under the law, hormone replacement therapies and sex reassignment surgeries, or any surgical procedure “performed for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics” are prohibited for minors under the age of 18. Minors who started or will start receiving hormone replacement therapy prior to July 1 of this year will still be able to continue getting treatment.

The ban supports what is characterized in the bill text as a “wait-and-see approach to minors with gender dysphoria, providing counseling, and allowing the child time to mature and develop his or her own identity.” Physicians risk losing their licenses if they violate the new law.

The legislation contains limited exceptions to allow the procedures in cases of “medical conditions other than gender dysphoria or for the purpose of sex reassignment where such treatments are deemed medically necessary” and to treat individuals born with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome or with “a medically verifiable disorder of sex development.”

LGBTQ advocates have argued that a new surge of state efforts to bar minors from accessing the health care deemed medically necessary by many major medical associations put transgender youth further at risk.

“Governor Kemp should be ashamed of himself — taking life-saving care away from vulnerable youth is a disgusting and indefensible act,” Human Rights Campaign state Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a statement. “This law harms transgender youth and terrorizes their families, but helps no one.”

“There will just be young people left without medically-necessary, age-appropriate care, parents stripped of the ability to get their kids the care they need, and the entire transgender community in Georgia feeling like they are unwelcome in their own state,” Oakley added.

A Human Rights Campaign report released Wednesday found more than half, 50.4 percent, of transgender youth ages 13-17 have lost or are currently at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care in their respective states.

“We will use every legal means at our disposal to block this bill from hurting children and families. It’s disturbing how quickly the governor acts to sign bills that take away people’s rights,” said Andrea Young, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Georgia.

Georgia’s new bill comes the day after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a bill restricting gender-affirming care for minors, and shortly after Missouri’s Republican attorney general said he’d do the same in the state.

The medical treatment has been a particular focus of the GOP as many in the party also seek to restrict transgender athletes and drag shows.

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