Federal Judge Stops Enforcement of Georgia’s Prohibition on Hormone Therapy for Transgender Youth

by Lucas Garcia
transgender minors

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The state of Georgia has been restrained by a U.S. District Court judge from putting into action a segment of a newly established law that restricts medical practitioners from initiating hormone treatment for transgender individuals who are minors.

Judge Sarah Geraghty of the U.S. District Court granted an initial injunction on Sunday. It was requested by various transgender minors, their parents, and a community group who are challenging the prohibition.

Judge Geraghty highlighted in her ruling that the immediate risks of irreparable damage to the plaintiffs, which include potential depression, anxiety, disordered eating habits, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts, are greater than any harm that could be experienced by the State as a result of the injunction.

The judge’s decision will stop the enforcement of the ban on hormone replacement treatment until there is further court direction or trial proceedings.

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Kara Richardson, a representative for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, expressed dissatisfaction with the judge’s verdict and announced an immediate intention to appeal in the interest of the welfare of Georgia’s children.

Senate Bill 140, the Georgia law in question, permits doctors to recommend medications to delay puberty, and it permits minors already undergoing hormone treatment to persist with it.

Nevertheless, it prohibits any fresh patients who are under 18 from initiating hormone treatment and additionally bans most gender-affirming procedures for transgender individuals under the age of 18. The law became effective on July 1.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers heralded Geraghty’s ruling as an “exceptional triumph for families in Georgia.” The plaintiffs are represented by organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and O’Melveny & Myers law firm.

They commented, “This statute overtly singles out transgender minors, depriving them of necessary healthcare. The judgment reinstates parents’ authority to make medical choices that are in the best interest of their children, including essential hormone therapy for transgender children.”

Currently, at least 22 states have enacted regulations that limit or prohibit gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, with the majority facing legal challenges. Federal judges have declared Arkansas’ prohibition unconstitutional, and temporary blocks have been placed in Alabama and Indiana as well.

In the Georgia lawsuit, the plaintiffs did not request an immediate suspension of the surgery ban, and thus it stays in effect.

Prior to considering medical intervention, doctors generally steer children towards therapy or voice training.

Hormonal treatments like puberty blockers are usually preferred over surgery, and have been accessible and endorsed by major medical bodies in the U.S. for over ten years.

During hearings held this month, Judge Geraghty was presented with differing opinions on the safety and advantages of hormone therapy for adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria. While family experts emphasized the established and significant benefits, state experts expressed doubts about the risks and the robustness of supporting studies.

Judge Geraghty, in her judgment, observed that witnesses for the state health officials set an overly stringent standard for evidence of the therapy’s benefits, and a less stringent one for evidence of its risks. She also acknowledged the consensus that extended use of puberty blockers can be detrimental to health.

In the case of the transgender children involved in the lawsuit, Judge Geraghty stated that “time is of the essence,” and SB 140 could lead them to experience increased gender dysphoria and unwanted and irreversible puberty.

Denise Lavoie, Big Big News legal affairs writer, based in Richmond, Va., contributed to this article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about transgender minors

What did the federal judge’s ruling in Georgia entail regarding hormone therapy for transgender minors?

The U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Geraghty’s ruling blocked the enforcement of Georgia’s law that prohibits doctors from initiating hormone therapy for transgender individuals under the age of 18. The judge granted a preliminary injunction after assessing the risks of irreparable harm, such as depression and anxiety, to the plaintiffs.

Who are the plaintiffs in this case against the Georgia law?

The plaintiffs include several transgender children, their parents, and a community organization. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and O’Melveny & Myers law firm.

What is Georgia’s Senate Bill 140, and what does it encompass?

Georgia’s Senate Bill 140 allows doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking medications and permits minors already receiving hormone therapy to continue. However, it bans new patients under 18 from starting hormone therapy and also prohibits most gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people under 18. The law took effect on July 1.

How have other states responded to gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors?

At least 22 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. Many of these states face lawsuits, and federal judges have struck down Arkansas’ ban as unconstitutional. Temporary blocks have also been placed in Alabama and Indiana.

What are the potential benefits and risks of hormone therapy as discussed in the court hearings?

During the hearings, experts for the families emphasized the well-established and profound benefits of gender-affirming care for adolescents with gender dysphoria. State government experts raised concerns about the risks of hormone treatment and questioned the quality of studies establishing its effectiveness. Judge Geraghty noted that the state health officials set a high bar for evidence of benefits and a low bar for evidence of risks.

What is the current status of the surgery ban in Georgia for transgender minors?

The plaintiffs in the Georgia lawsuit did not ask to immediately block the surgery ban, so it remains in effect. The ruling mainly pertains to the ban on hormone replacement therapy.

More about transgender minors

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SamanthaP August 21, 2023 - 8:12 pm

I’ve got a friend in Georgia who is directly affected by this. So glad to hear the injunction has been granted time is of the essence indeed.

Rick_90 August 21, 2023 - 8:20 pm

State experts and their high bar for evidence; low bar for risk? Sounds like an excuse to me. Just let people live their lives the way they want.

James B. August 22, 2023 - 2:24 am

Couldn’t believe this when I read it. Finally some good news for transgender community in Georgia! Keep fighting, rights are hard-won.

KatieM August 22, 2023 - 3:30 am

Some of these laws just dont make sense. good on Judge Geraghty for standing up and blocking this.

Melissa_T August 22, 2023 - 5:08 am

Is it just me, or does this ruling seem like a no brainer? Puberty-blocking meds have been around for a decade. Why is it even a debate?

LucasQ August 22, 2023 - 6:21 am

22 states? That’s almost half the country. What a scary thought. Keep up the fight everyone!

JohnDoe123 August 22, 2023 - 8:32 am

Wait, so the surgery ban still in effect, right? What’s up with that, seems they missed a big piece of the puzzle here…


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