Senate Republicans propose limits on medical treatments for transgender children



A Republican state senator on Thursday filed legislation that would make it illegal for health care providers to give transgender children any treatment that assists them in aligning with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 141, filed by Buford Republican Sen. Clint Dixon, would also ban nurses from encouraging children to seek gender affirmation treatment or keep any information that a student may be transgender from their parents. Fourteen Republicans are co-signers on the bill.

“The state has a compelling interest to protect all young Georgians from harm,” Dixon said. “Allowing Georgians who cannot legally vote, smoke or purchase a firearm to make a high-stakes decision with irreparable consequences is dangerous and must be addressed immediately by the Georgia General Assembly.”

This bill is part of a trend involving Republican lawmakers in states such as Alabama, Texas and Idaho, where a measure was filed last month using much of the same language as Dixon’s legislation.

SB 141 would ban health care providers from performing any physical or hormonal treatments on children who are experiencing gender dysphoria, the medical diagnosis for many transgender people. The diagnosis is typically treated by procedures such as plastic surgery and hormone therapy.

Children who don’t identify with their biological sex at a very young age may be prescribed hormone treatment that aims to delay puberty or stop it from progressing.

However, transgender advocates say it is incredibly rare for doctors to perform nonreversible procedures on minors. And state Sen. Kim Jackson, a Stone Mountain Democrat who is the chamber’s first openly LGBTQ member, said the surgeries are not happening at all on minors in Georgia.

“Preventing children from receiving puberty-blocking drugs who need them could have extremely devastating effects on their mental health and well-being,” Jackson said. “We know that children who are struggling with their gender identities already have higher rates of attempts at suicide. These types of hormonal treatments are medically necessary for their mental health.”

The bill includes an exception for the treatment of intersex children — those who are not born with the genitalia, chromosomes or reproductive organs of only one gender. There are also allowances for physicians to treat children for nongender-related reasons, such as a sexual development disorder or an injury or infection.

Medical professionals who treat transgender minors “shall be subject to discipline by the licensing entity,” the bill states.

Georgia Republican lawmakers last year passed legislation that allows any athletic association to ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ teams. A month later, the Georgia High School Association voted to require that athletes compete based on their biological sex, effectively banning transgender athletes from participating based on gender identification.