Parents of transgender teens sue to block Georgia’s gender-affirming childcare ban – Orlando Sentinel

By KATE BRUMBACK (Associated Press)

ATLANTA (AP) — Parents of four transgender children have filed a lawsuit challenging a Georgia law due to go into effect Saturday that bans most gender-affirming surgery and hormone replacement therapy for transgender people under the age of 18.

The law passed this year’s General Assembly with a Republican majority at the party level and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. There was heated argument, and Democrats, parents and health care providers made passionate arguments against it. Georgia is one of at least 20 states that have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-based medical care for transgender minors. Most states are currently facing court cases.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday night, is asking a judge to permanently block the law. US District Judge Sarah Geraghty scheduled a hearing on Wednesday on a companion motion to prevent enforcement of the law pending legal challenge.

Georgia’s law, Senate Bill 140, allows doctors to prescribe anti-puberty drugs and allows minors who are already on hormone therapy to continue.

Proponents argue that the law will prevent children from making decisions they may later regret.

But opponents say it will have a devastating impact on young people who make their decisions under parental and medical supervision. They argue that the law further marginalizes people who are already prone to suicide at a worrying rate.

The federal lawsuit was filed by the parents of four transgender girls and by TransParent, an organization that supports parents and caregivers of transgender children. The lawsuit was filed on her behalf by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

They argue that the law “violates parents’ fundamental rights to make medical decisions to ensure the health and well-being of their children” and “violates guarantees of equal protection by providing transgender youth with necessary and often life-saving medical treatment.” denied on the basis of their children’s sex and their transgender status.”

The lawsuit names state health authorities as defendants.

Kara Richardson, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr, said Friday morning that they have not yet received the lawsuit.

“Nonetheless, the Attorney General will fulfill his duty, which includes defending legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor,” she wrote in an email.

Puberty blockers are only meant to last a few years. Prolonged delay in puberty carries risks, including preventing the development of bone density in the body, which is generally the case during puberty, the lawsuit alleges.

If the law goes into effect, young people who are already taking puberty blockers will not be able to continue with hormone therapy. That means they must choose between the negative consequences of prolonged use of this drug or stopping the drug and going through puberty to develop secondary sex characteristics that are inconsistent with their gender identity, the lawsuit states.

For those who are not already taking anti-puberty drugs, the law prevents doctors from prescribing them in the first place because “allowing a young person to take such drugs until age 18 is not a viable option under reasonable standards of care,” it says it in suit.

“It’s just cruel to deny access to essential medical care,” Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Beth Littrell said in a statement. “Laws like these are based on prejudice, misinformation and artificial fear and are as untenable as they are unconstitutional.”

The plaintiff families have petitioned the court to allow them to use pseudonyms out of concerns for their privacy and security.

Some families said the law would force them to make the disruptive decision to uproot their families and move to a state that will provide their children with the healthcare they believe is necessary for them to live happily and thrive.

“Gender equitable healthcare is a proven, evidence-based medical treatment necessary for the health and happiness of many transgender youth,” said Cory Isaacson, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.

The lawsuit is the latest to challenge bans on gender-based grooming after a wave of legislation was passed in conservative-run states.

A federal judge ruled the ban unconstitutional in Arkansas, and federal judges have temporarily blocked bans in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek an interim court order to lockdown. A federal judge has blocked Florida from enforcing its ban on three children who have challenged the law.

The states that have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-specific medical care for transgender minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia.