Federal judge postpones hearing on injunction against Georgia’s new transgender care law

Georgia parents suing Georgia over its law restricting gender-based care for transgender minors had their first day of court on Wednesday after the law went into effect on July 1.

The parents want US District Judge Sarah Geraghty to temporarily block the law banning surgery or hormone therapy for transgender minors while a challenge progresses.

Transgender activists and supporters say the law targets vulnerable minors, prevents parents from making medical decisions for their children and prevents doctors from following best practice. Supporters of the law say it is non-discriminatory and aims to deter minors from undergoing procedures they may regret in the future.

Wednesday’s hearing was limited to discussing the scheduling of a future evidence hearing.

Ben Bradshaw, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told the judge their experts would be available for testimony as early as Thursday.

Georgia Attorney General Stephen Petrany said the timeframe should be “months, not weeks.”

The parents’ complaint was filed Thursday evening and was received by Geraghty’s office on Friday morning. Petrany said the state will finalize a list of attorneys to try the case by Thursday morning, but the July 4 holiday has made that more difficult.

“You took your time putting your suit together, now we need some time,” he said.

In a July 3 court filing, Petrany argued that Gov. Brian Kemp signed the law into law in March and plaintiffs waited more than three months to apply for emergency aid. He also argued that they should not run as neither family plans to start hormone therapy right away, but rather wait and monitor their hormone levels.

“The lack of urgency of the plaintiffs themselves is borne out by the fact that they waited more than three months after the passage of the law to file a lawsuit, including an eleventh-hour request for emergency assistance on a breakneck schedule that could have been avoided entirely , if they had filed a complaint.”

Attorneys for the families said it takes time before the families decide to plead as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit about a heated issue and before attorneys gather information from experts to put together such a lawsuit.

Geraghty urged the sides to try and come up with a timeline by Friday morning and if they couldn’t agree, she would decide on a timeline. She said she understands the need for speed but will also ensure the state has adequate time to prepare.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Beth Littrell, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Georgia’s new law is part of a nationwide attack on transgender people, but said she was encouraged to see similar laws in other states ice was laid.

“There is certainly an understanding across the country that laws like SB 140 are unconstitutional and cannot be justified by the state,” she said. “And so we’ve seen in Alabama, Florida, in Kentucky, in Tennessee, and across the country, judges have either blocked or permanently repealed these laws, and we expect that will continue to be the case.”