The Georgia GOP legislature is introducing a bill banning some gender-affirming healthcare

A Senate committee on Wednesday passed legislation that would ban doctors from performing some gender-affirming procedures on transgender patients under the age of 18.

Senator Carden Summers’ Senate Bill 140 would limit surgical treatment of gender dysphoria and hormone therapy for minors, but allow puberty blockers, which delay the onset of puberty.

“This bill provides drugs that block puberty and gives you a mental break from that,” said Sen. Ben Watson, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and a Savannah physician. “It bans surgery and bans testosterone and estrogen. To say it doesn’t address (gender dysphoria) would be a misrepresentation in my opinion.”

Another bill, Sen. Clint Dixons SB 141, would ban puberty blockers in addition to surgical and hormonal treatments. Dixon and Summers are both sponsors of each other’s bills, and Summers has also introduced a bill aimed at preventing adult authority figures from speaking to minors under the age of 16 about LGBTQ issues.

Tom Rawlings, a child protection advocate who brought the bill to Summers, said approving puberty blockers could give children and families a chance to quit and evaluate their options before seeking more permanent treatment.

“The majority of people who exhibit gender dysphoria resolve it in some way — they can resolve it by sort of adjusting to their own body and gender, they can become gay or bisexual, they may find attraction differently than others Kinds of people,” said Rawlings, who ran the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and was fired after an altercation in which he called an off-duty police officer “boy” and “son.” “But the bottom line is we are simply proposing that we should limit irreversible medical procedures to such individuals until the individual is 18.”

Formal studies of the speed at which gender dysphoria resolves on its own have yielded very mixed results. Experts say gender identity is different from sexual orientation.

Healthcare providers say surgical procedures on transgender minors are extremely rare. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes puberty blockers as reversible, but notes that the effect of prolonged puberty suppression on fertility is unknown.

dr Quentin Van Meter, an Atlanta-based pediatric endocrinologist who supported Dixon’s bill, said he has serious concerns about disrupting puberty because it’s important in shaping many body systems into adulthood.

In 2020, a Texas judge disqualified Van Meter as a transgender healthcare expert, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

“I’m passionate about it because I care a lot about children,” said Van Meter. “I know that hormones are necessary and that puberty is not a disease. It is a process that helps us go from being a non-reproductive individual to being a healthy, reproductive individual. Our brains depend on it, our bones depend on it, our gonads depend on it.”

A 2020 statement from the Endocrine Society, supported by the Pediatric Endocrinology Society, notes that “medical interventions for transgender youth and adults (including puberty suppression, hormone therapy, and medically indicated surgery) are effective, relatively safe (when appropriate monitoring) are and were established as the standard of care.”

More than a dozen people signed up to speak at Wednesday’s hearing, mostly opposition parents, but many were denied a chance to speak because lawmakers called another meeting in the same room an hour later. A hearing on Summers’ other bill was similarly rushed.

Parents gathered at the Capitol after the meeting said puberty blockers may be effective for children who come out as transgender before they reach puberty, but do not help those who later realize they are transgender. The physical changes that accompany puberty can be distressing for many people with gender dysphoria.

Stephanie Hinnant, a Decatur mother, said hormone treatment may have saved her child’s life.

“For my kid, that would have been essentially six years of being in the wrong body and developing in childhood, and I don’t know if they would have made it through six years,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing. This is health care that helps them survive and exist and be on this planet. And without them, there is no option for most of these children to be on this planet anymore.”

Hinnant said their child is now happy, healthy and working towards an engineering degree.

A national push

Elements of the GOP have focused on opposing more novel expressions of gender in recent years, taking the fight to state legislatures. The American Civil Liberties Union is prosecuting 321 anti-LGBTQ laws nationwide, including 95 related to healthcare.

One of the most outspoken politicians on the issue was Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who visited the Georgia Senate on Wednesday to urge her to speak out against what she called a “billion-dollar medical industry that’s growing across the country.” “, to fight.

“There are kids who aren’t even old enough to vote, not old enough to graduate high school, not old enough to have a driver’s license, not old enough to join the military, not old enough tattooed to get one, not old enough to buy nicotine or alcohol, taking dangerous drugs, puberty blockers, undergoing dangerous surgeries, permanent, life-changing surgeries,” she said.

About 300,000 Americans between the ages of 13 and 17 identified as transgender, or 1.4% of that age group, as of June, according to data from UCLA.