Four families with transgender children, plus a national organization for such families, have requested an emergency court order to block Georgia’s ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth from going into effect.
The families, who filed anonymously, and the TransParent organization are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 140 into law in March. It bans surgery and hormone treatment for people under 18 for the purposes of gender transition, while it allows the use of puberty blockers. It was supposed to go into effect Saturday, and young people who had started hormone therapy before that date were to be allowed to stay on the treatment.
The emergency order request was filed Thursday in hopes of blocking the law, but the court does not appear to have acted. It was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, naming several state agencies and officials as defendants.
Their filing says the ban “violates the fundamental rights of parents to make medical decisions to ensure the health and well-being of their children” and the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws “by denying transgender youth essential, and often lifesaving, medical treatment based on their sex and on their transgender status.”
“Defendants cannot demonstrate any rational basis, much less an important or compelling one, for the Health Care Ban, which prevents transgender youth from obtaining safe, established, and necessary medical care,” it continues, adding, “Plaintiffs will suffer real, immediate, and irreparable injury” if the ban goes into effect.
Similar bans have been blocked or struck down in Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida.
“It is vital that, as a family, we have agency in our own medical decisions that are in the best interest of our child— that includes gender-affirming care,” a plaintiff identified by the pseudonym Anna Zoe said in a press release. “Our sweet, bright, and creative daughter has been a girl for as long as she can remember. Her identity as a girl is as natural and innate as any of the other attributes she was born with — blue eyes, left-handedness, and an infectious laugh. Access to gender-affirming care will allow our daughter to develop into the person she has always wanted to be, and the person she has always been inside.”
“It is outrageous that Georgia passed a law targeting one of our most vulnerable populations. This is a direct attack on kids who are just trying to be themselves and are now being harmed by the same government that is supposed to protect them,” said another pseudonymous plaintiff, Paul Voe. “I cannot sit back and watch this law negatively impact the mental and physical health of my child and many others across Georgia. I must stand up for what’s right for my kid and every kid like her.”
“SB 140 strips the rights of families to make their own medical decisions by prohibiting safe and effective medical care for treating gender dysphoria. In doing so, the state has banned critically important care that is often lifesaving for transgender youth,” said Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver, senior director of litigation at the HRC Foundation. “Our health care providers and families care about nothing more than doing what’s best for their patients and children. We are suing to challenge the unconstitutional attacks on transgender youth and their families. The Human Rights Campaign is dedicated to continuing our work to provide a safe, open, and welcoming Georgia for all to live, work, and raise a family.”
“Prohibiting access to necessary medical care is just cruel,” said Beth Littrell, senior supervising attorney for LGBTQ rights and special litigation at SPLC. “The Healthcare Ban displaces parents’ ability to make decisions in the best interest of their children, disregards the collective knowledge of the medical community and condemns children to years of suffering. Laws like this are predicated on prejudice, misinformation, and manufactured fears, and they are as indefensible as they are unconstitutional.”
“Georgia parents of transgender youth want what all Georgia parents want — to be able to support and protect their children and to provide them with the care they need to be healthy and thrive, said Cory Isaacson, legal director at the ACLU of Georgia. “Gender-affirming health care is best-practice, evidence-based medical treatment that is necessary for the health and happiness of many transgender youth. SB 140 prohibits Georgia parents from being able to get their children that essential health care, substituting the will of state politicians for the decision-making of parents and the professional judgment of medical providers. This lawsuit is about securing the rights of Georgia parents to care for their children, and securing the rights of transgender youth to access the medical treatment they need.”