Parents of transgender youth file lawsuit to block Georgia’s gender-affirming care ban

ATLANTA (AP) — The parents of four transgender children have filed a lawsuit challenging a Georgia law set to take effect Saturday that bans most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement treatments for transgender people. under the age of 18, their lawyers said.

The lawsuit, which lawyers say was filed Thursday evening, asks a judge to immediately restrain the law’s enforcement while the legal challenge unfolds.

The law passed this year by the Republican-majority General Assembly and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has been hotly contested, with Democrats, parents and medical providers making impassioned arguments against it. Georgia is one of at least 20 states that have enacted laws that restrict or prohibit gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, with most currently facing legal action.

Georgia’s law, Senate Bill 140, allows doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs and allows minors who are already receiving 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 devastating effects on young people, who make decisions under parental and medical supervision. They argue that the law further marginalizes people who are already prone to suicide at extremely high rates.

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 their 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 the fundamental rights of parents to make medical decisions to ensure the health and well-being of their children” and “violates guarantees of equal protection by denying transgender youth essential medical treatment, and often vital, based on their gender and transgender status.

Lawyers said he was naming state health officials as defendants.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment on the lawsuit to the state attorney general’s office, which defends state laws against legal challenges.

Puberty blockers are only meant to be used for a few years. Delaying puberty any longer carries risks, including preventing their bodies from developing bone density that typically occurs during puberty, the suit says.

If the law comes into force, young people already on puberty blockers will not be able to undergo hormone therapy. This means they will have to 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 don’t match their gender identity, the lawsuit says.

For those who are not yet taking puberty-blocking drugs, the law discourages doctors from prescribing them because allowing a young person to take such drugs until the age of 18 “is not a viable option according to appropriate standards of care,” the lawsuit states.

“To deny access to necessary medical care is simply cruel,” Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Beth Littrell said in a statement. “Laws like this are based on bias, misinformation and manufactured fears, and they are as indefensible as they are unconstitutional.”

The families who sued asked the court to let them sue under pseudonyms due to concerns about their privacy and safety.

Some families said the law would force them to make the disruptive choice of uprooting their families to move to a state that allows their children to receive the health care they believe is necessary to live happily and thrive.

“Gender-affirming health care is best practice, evidence-based medical treatment that is necessary for the health and happiness of many transgender youth,” said ACLU of Georgia Chief Legal Officer Cory Isaacson.

The lawsuit is the latest to target bans on gender-affirming care, after a wave of laws passed in conservative states.

A federal judge struck down the Arkansas ban as unconstitutional, and federal judges temporarily blocked bans in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek a temporary court order blocking it. A federal judge blocked Florida from enforcing its ban on three children who challenged the law.

States that have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming 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.

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