Georgia can again enforce its ban on hormone therapy for transgender minors, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Geraghty had issued an injunction in August blocking enforcement of the ban while a lawsuit against it proceeds, as she found that the parties who sued were likely to succeed in proving it violated the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws. But she put that injunction on hold because of a ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit that lifted a block on Alabama’s ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth.
Since Georgia is in the same circuit, she had to follow this lead, she said. “It is undisputed that this Court’s preliminary injunction order rests on legal grounds that have been squarely rejected by the panel in Eknes-Tucker [the Alabama case], and that this Court’s injunction cannot stand on the bases articulated in the order,” Geraghty wrote. She added, “Eknes-Tucker is binding precedent right now.”
Geraghty and the 11th Circuit panel had different opinions what legal standard such laws should be held to, and the panel did not think the plaintiffs in the Alabama case would succeed under the standard it applied. The full 11th Circuit may rehear the matter.
Georgia 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. Young people who had been on hormone treatment before the law went into effect in July can continue on it, but none can start it. The surgery ban was not at issue before the court. Genital surgery is not usually recommended for minors.
Four families of trans youth and TransParent organization sued to challenge the Georgia law. They 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.
“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,” said a joint statement issued by the lawyers. “However, we want to stress that this is not the end of the judicial process, we will keep fighting and look forward to presenting our case in court.”
Twenty-two states have passed laws banning most or all gender-affirming care for trans youth. In several states, courts have issued injunctions blocking the laws while suits are heard, and in one, Arkansas, a court has struck the law down. That ruling is being appealed.