Georgia faces lawsuit over gender-affirming childcare ban – JURIST

A group of seven Georgia parents and children filed a lawsuit in the state court on Friday to block the state’s ban on underage gender-based health care, including hormone therapy, surgery and other “irreversible procedures.” The families were assisted in filing the lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The lawsuit alleges that the statute, SB 140, violates parents’ constitutional due process rights under the 14th Amendment, including their right to choose how to raise their children. The filing states, “The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of parents to make decisions about the care, custody, and control of their children.”

The families also allege that the law violates the equal treatment clause of the 14th amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and gender. The lawsuit states:

The health ban specifically restricts transgender minors and prohibits them from receiving medically necessary treatments based on their gender and transgender status. Importantly, the discriminatory purpose of the ban is achieved by prohibiting the use of medically necessary treatment only when that treatment is provided to transgender youth who did not begin treatment with hormone therapy before July 1, 2023, not however, when provided to non-transgender youth.

Lawyers from several human rights organizations, including the SPLC, HRC and ACLU, also filed a memorandum calling for the law to be temporarily blocked until the lawsuit is resolved.

Anna Zoe, a pseudonym for one of the parents involved in the lawsuit, commented on the consequences of SB 140 for her family:

It is vital that as a family we have agency in making our own medical decisions that are in the best interests of our child, including gender-sensitive care. Our sweet, bright and creative daughter has always been a girl. Her identity as a girl is as natural and innate as all the other traits she was born with – blue eyes, left-handed, and an infectious laugh. Access to gender-sensitive care will allow our daughter to grow into the person she always wanted to be and has always been inside.

State Senator Carden Summers, SB 140’s key legislative supporter, defended the bill, saying: “I think most sane people will feel that having surgery and using sex-change hormones, which are irreversible in minors, is not an appropriate procedure.” However, doctors say Many results of puberty block and hormone therapy, both of which are blocked by law, are reversible.

Gender-affirming surgeries are rare in minors. A study in Louisiana found that between 2017 and 2021, no minor enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program had surgery as part of their care, despite seeing a 200% increase in gender dysphoria diagnoses among Medicaid-enrolled adolescents.

The lawsuit comes as transgender health bans have been lifted in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Alabama and Florida. Oklahoma agreed in May to lift its ban pending court cases. The ACLU has ongoing lawsuits in Idaho and Nebraska challenging both states’ gender-based grooming bans.

According to the HRC, 30.9% of transgender youth live in states that have banned some level of gender-based grooming.