Georgia limits on treatment for trans minors remain in place after hearing

Alyssa Sali holds a sign outside the state Senate at the Georgia Capitol in March opposing a ban on certain treatments for transgender children. (Arvin Temkar /

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Alyssa Sali holds a sign outside the state Senate at the Georgia Capitol in March opposing a ban on certain treatments for transgender children. (Arvin Temkar /

Georgia’s law banning certain treatments for transgender minors will remain in effect while attorneys hash out a “reasonable” timetable for court proceedings.

The law took effect Saturday.

Several Georgia families filed a federal lawsuit against the state late Thursday asking the courts to stop the measure from taking effect, saying it takes away the rights of parents to make health care decisions for their children.

The timing of the filing by attorneys from civil rights organizations — including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Human Rights Campaign — was a central theme to a logistical hearing in federal court on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Sarah E. Geraghty questioned attorneys for the families filing their challenge of the law “some 30 hours before the effective date of the statute,” pointing out that Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law in March.

Still, attorneys for the family urged Geraghty to hold a hearing next week to determine whether the law should be placed on hold while the case makes its way through the court process.

Solicitor General Stephen Petrany said the state would need “months, not weeks” to prepare a defense of the law, including hiring outside attorneys to represent the state.

“They took their time getting their case together,” Petrany said, adding that the state should have a similar amount of time.

Geraghty agreed that a week is not enough time.

“But, irrespective of the merits of the case, the circumstances call for expedited (schedule), at least to some degree,” she said.

Geraghty gave attorneys until Friday to try to reach an agreement on scheduling. If they are unable to, which is likely, she will set the schedule.

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 have stopped similar laws from taking effect in other states, including Alabama and Florida, while the cases make their way through the court process.

Supporters of SB 140 say it protects children from taking steps toward gender transition that are permanent. Opponents say the law goes against published medical “standards of care” and will end up hurting transgender children, who commit suicide at a higher rate than their nontransgender peers.

Medical professionals are still allowed to prescribe a hormone treatment that aims to delay puberty or stop it from progressing under the law. Children who don’t identify with their biological sex at a young age are often prescribed the puberty blockers.

SB 140 will also allow minors to continue receiving hormone treatments if they began before Saturday.