Georgia law prohibits most transgender daycare for children under the age of 18

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia will ban most gender-specific surgery and hormone replacement therapy for transgender people under the age of 18, under new legislation signed into law Thursday by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Lawmakers finally approved the law on Tuesday, despite impassioned appeals from Democrats and LGBTQ advocates against the most controversial bill of Georgia’s 2023 legislature. The Republican governor signed the bill privately, without the ceremony he sometimes celebrates new legislation with.

Senate Bill 140 is part of a nationwide Conservative initiative to restrict transgender athletes, gender-affirming grooming and drag shows. Governors in Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota have signed similar bills into law.

“I appreciate the many hours of respectful debate and deliberation by members of the General Assembly that led to the final passage of this bill,” Kemp said in a statement. “As Georgians, parents and elected leaders, ensuring our children’s bright, bright future is our highest responsibility – and SB 140 is taking an important step towards fulfilling that mission.”

Opponents consider the new law to be an unconstitutional encroachment on parents’ rights. The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia said it will “use every legal means at our disposal” to repeal the law soon after Kemp signed it. Judges have — at least temporarily — blocked legislation restricting gender-based treatment of transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama.

“It’s disturbing how quickly the governor is signing legislation that deprives people of their rights,” Andrea Young, executive director of Georgia’s ACLU, said in a statement.

Under Georgia law, which goes into effect July 1, doctors could still prescribe drugs to suppress puberty. It also states that minors who are already receiving hormone therapy may continue it.

Proponents say the law’s restrictions prevent children from making decisions they may later regret. Cole Muzio, president of the conservative Christian group Frontline Policy Action, had pushed for even stricter bans. While praising Kemp for signing the measure, he also called it “one of the most vulnerable in the country” and pledged further efforts at restrictions.

“Governor. “Kem has never been afraid to protect children and we appreciate his continued commitment to standing up against radical and harmful schemes,” Muzio said in a statement.

But opponents say the measure is based on disinformation and a desire to open a new front in the culture war to please conservative Republican voters, arguing that it is targeting vulnerable children and interfering with private medical decisions.

Critics said the measure will require doctors to violate standards of care and that Republicans have abandoned their previous support for parents’ right to make decisions.

“This legislation is a clear assault on the rights of transgender children, their parents and the Georgia medical community at large,” Jeff Graham, executive director of LGBTQ rights group Equality Georgia, said in a statement. “Parents should be able to make decisions about their child’s health care by working with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care.”

The bill was amended to remove a clause that specifically shields physicians from criminal and civil liability. This change was driven by conservative groups who want people to be able to sue their doctor if they later regret their treatment, although it’s unclear how large that group might be.

Transgender youth and parents have campaigned vigorously against the bill in recent weeks, warning lawmakers that they are further marginalizing a group already prone to suicide in worryingly high numbers.

Republicans denied they wanted to harm anyone and said they have the best interests of children at heart and want people to have an opportunity to seek advice.


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