Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature sent a bill Tuesday to the desk of Gov. Brian Kemp (R) that would bar health professionals from administering certain types of gender-affirming care to minors, making it the latest Republican-led state to advance such a ban.
The legislation seeks to outlaw surgical procedures and hormone replacement therapies for transgender patients under age 18, leaving room for health professionals to dispense puberty-blocking medication.
In banning specific treatments, though, the measure flies in the face of recommendations by major medical groups including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Kemp has not indicated whether he plans to sign the bill.
“Broadly speaking, this really is about us bullying children to score political points, and that to me is extraordinarily disheartening,” Georgia state Sen. Kim Jackson (D) said of the measure, according to The Associated Press.
Similar legislation is currently pending elsewhere in the country. GOP-led states that have already passed bans include Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Georgia bill’s leading sponsor is state Sen. Carden Summers (R), who has no apparent background in medicine.
Summers told public broadcaster GPB News that supporters “want a wait-and-see approach, a do-no-harm approach, until the child reaches the age of 18.”
“At that point in time, whatever that child or family decides to do, it’s their business,” he said.
Language in the bill asserts that there has been a “massive unexplained rise in diagnoses of gender dysphoria among children over the past ten years,” a dubious claim frequently made by conservatives.
Supporters of legislation targeting transgender health care often claim that bans are necessary to prevent kids from making decisions they later regret.
Yet a recent study published in the Pediatrics medical journal concluded that only 7.3% of 317 trans participants had changed their minds an average of five years after they first socially transitioned as minors. Transitioning generally includes a social component, involving clothing, hairstyle and preferred pronouns, before some people opt for a medical intervention.
Research also indicates that transgender and nonbinary youths consider suicide at a higher rate than their peers.
In early March, Mother Jones reported that restrictions on transgender youth health care may be just the first step in larger efforts to ban gender-affirming care altogether, citing emails obtained from religious-right lobbying groups.
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