Parents of trans kids try to block Georgia’s ban on gender-based childcare

Four families with transgender children, as well as a national organization for such families, have applied for an emergency court order to prevent the enactment of Georgia’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The anonymously submitted families and the organization TransParent are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 140 into law in March. It bans surgery and hormone treatments for people under 18 for the purpose of sex reassignment, while allowing the use of puberty blockers. It was due to come into effect on Saturday and young people who had started hormone therapy before that date should be allowed to continue treatment.

The emergency order request was made Thursday in hopes of blocking the law, but the court appears not to have acted. The motion has been filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and has named several state agencies and officials as defendants.

Their motion states that the ban violates “the fundamental right of parents to make medical decisions to safeguard the health and well-being of their children” and the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, “by Transgender youth denied essential and often life-saving medical treatment based on their gender and transgender status.”

“Defendants fail to establish any rationale, let alone material or compelling basis for the healthcare ban preventing transgender youth from receiving safe, established and necessary medical care,” it said, adding, “Plaintiffs are getting real and suffer immediate ‘and irreparable harm’ if the ban comes into force.

Similar bans have been blocked or lifted in Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida.

“It is critical 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,” a plaintiff using the pseudonym Anna Zoe said in a press release. “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. Having access to gender-sensitive care will allow our daughter to grow into the person she has always wanted to be and has always been.”

“It is outrageous that Georgia has passed a law targeting one of our most vulnerable communities. “This is a direct attack on children who are just trying to be themselves and are now being harmed by the same government that was supposed to be protecting them,” said another pseudonymous plaintiff, Paul Voe. “I cannot watch this law negatively impact the mental and physical health of my child and many others across Georgia. I have to stand up for what is right for my child and every child like her.”

“SB 140 deprives families of the right to make their own medical decisions by prohibiting safe and effective medical care to treat gender dysphoria. In doing so, the state has banned essential care, which is often life-saving for transgender youth,” said Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver, senior director of litigation at the HRC Foundation. “Our healthcare providers and families care about nothing other than doing what is best for their patients and children. With our lawsuit, we oppose the unconstitutional attacks on transgender youth and their families. The Human Rights Campaign is committed to continuing our work to create a safe, open and welcoming Georgia where everyone can live, work and raise a family.”

“It’s just cruel to deny access to essential medical care,” said Beth Littrell, lead LGBTQ rights and special procedures attorney at SPLC. “The health ban impairs parents’ ability to make decisions in their children’s best interests, disregards the collective knowledge of the medical community, and condemns children to years of suffering.” Laws like this are based on prejudice, misinformation and artificial fear and are as untenable as they are unconstitutional .”

“Parents of transgender youth in Georgia want what every parent in Georgia wants — to be able to support and protect their children and provide them with the care they need to be healthy and thrive,” said Cory Isaacson, legal director at the ACLU from Georgia. “Gender-responsive healthcare is a proven, evidence-based medical treatment that is necessary for the health and happiness of many transgender youth. SB 140 prohibits Georgia parents from providing their children with necessary health care, replacing parental decision-making and the professional judgment of medical providers with the will of state politicians. This lawsuit seeks to secure the right of Georgia parents to care for their children and the right of transgender youth to access the medical treatment they need.”