Federal judge reinstates Georgia’s ban on treatments for trans kids

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

A federal judge on Tuesday reallowed enforcement of Georgia’s law banning certain hormone therapies for transgender minors.

U.S. District Judge Sarah E. Geraghty about two weeks ago temporarily put a hold on the law — passed by the General Assembly during the 2023 legislative session — while it was being challenged by the families of transgender children. But a subsequent ruling out of the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals overturned an Alabama lower court ruling that blocked a similar law, prompting state Attorney General Chris Carr to ask Geraghty to reconsider her ruling in Georgia.

The 11th Circuit handles cases from Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and will continue fighting to protect the health and well-being of Georgia’s children,” said Carr’s spokeswoman Kara Richardson.

The new order again bans health care professionals from giving hormones such as estrogen or testosterone to minors. The ban initially took effect July 1. Geraghty’s earlier order allowed the treatments to resume Aug. 20.

State Sen. Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican who sponsored the measure, said he was glad that the state was giving young people a “pause” before making an irreversible decision to alter their bodies.

“I hope that people understand that this was not written to single out any sexual orientation,” he said. “This is simply to give young people a chance to pause to make sure they know what they’re doing and they want to do what they’re doing.”

Attorneys for several families with transgender children had asked Geraghty to continue to block the law because “it is a pretext for discrimination against transgender individuals.” But Carr’s office argued that findings by the 11th Circuit contradict Geraghty’s ruling and she should vacate her ruling and allow Georgia’s law to be in effect during the court process.

“We are disappointed, primarily for the families who are unable to get the care they need in Georgia or make medical decisions based on the best interest of their children,” attorneys representing the families said in a press release. “However, we want to stress that this is not the end of the judicial process and we will keep fighting and look forward to presenting our case in court.”

Georgia’s law, Senate Bill 140, bans health care professionals from giving hormones such as estrogen and testosterone to transgender minors. Doctors also are not allowed to perform surgeries on children seeking to align with their gender identity.

Federal judges at district levels have stopped similar laws from taking effect in other states. But the laws have been reinstated by U.S. appeals courts in the 11th and 6th circuits.

Alabama’s law is slightly different than Georgia’s. In Georgia, transgender minors are allowed to receive puberty blockers, and anyone who had begun hormone therapy before the law took effect in July would be allowed to continue. Alabama’s law bans the use of all treatments for transgender minors.