Georgia Senate Bill Bans Some Transgender Childcare Services – WABE

The Georgia Senate passed legislation banning some types of gender-affirming childcare in the state for those under the age of 18, overruling the impassioned pleas of a Democratic senator who is the mother of a transgender son.

Monday’s 33-22 vote to pass Senate Bill 140, with all Republicans supporting the measure, is part of a nationwide effort by conservatives to restrict transgender athletes, gender-affirming grooming and drag shows.

The bill, which will go to the House of Representatives for further debate, would ban most gender-confirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapy for people under the age of 18. However, unlike laws passed in some other states, he would still allow doctors to prescribe drugs to block puberty.

“It simply means that this is a pause and we are requiring that children be 18 before making this decision that will forever change their lives,” said Senator Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican who sponsored the measure has.

But opponents of the measure said a blanket ban ignores the needs of individuals and sends out a message that will lead to more transgender youth self-harming.

“I didn’t choose this story,” said Senator Sally Harrell, who spoke to lawmakers about her transgender son. “But I’ve made a choice to be a mother. And if you decide to become a parent, the most important thing is to love your child.”

Opponents say the bill is an unconstitutional breach of the same protections because it would still allow some types of surgery. Judges have temporarily blocked legislation restricting the treatment of transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama.

They also denounce the state’s attempt to override what parents and doctors think is best.

“Doctors and psychiatrists, they shouldn’t be in a rush to treat with hormones and surgery, but outright banning them isn’t the answer either,” Harrell said.

Opponents also warned that transgender youth are already vulnerable to self-harm or suicide and the message the law is sending could make it worse

“If this law gets passed, if this law becomes law, we know that this law can actually be deadly,” said Sen. Kim Jackson, a Stone Mountain Democrat who is the first openly lesbian member of the state Senate. “I know there have been some concerns about the treatment of children that could be irreversible. But you know, the most irreversible thing is suicide.”

Some opponents had pushed for stricter restrictions, including bans on puberty blockers and criminal penalties. But Senator Ben Watson, a Savannah Republican and physician, said leaving the drugs an option and letting state agencies discipline violators is a better option.

“We adjusted and refined that calculation until I think we’ve threaded the needle and made a good calculation,” Watson said.

Georgia lawmakers also considered another Summers-authored bill this year that would bar teachers from speaking to students about gender identity, though it stalled for the year after a Senate committee introduced it.

Last year, Gov. Brian Kemp pushed through a measure that paved the way for the Georgia High School Association to ban transgender athletes from playing on school athletic teams that match their gender identity.