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Georgia ban on transgender healthcare is challenged in lawsuit

Four Georgia families sued the state in federal court on Friday to stop a law that bans transgender youth from receiving hormone therapy, joining a wave of challenges to similar laws across the United States.

The plaintiffs, allowed to proceed anonymously to guard against reprisals, are seeking an injunction to stop Georgia’s Senate Bill 140, which prohibits doctors from treating minors with hormone therapy to support their gender transitions.

A host of Georgia state health officials and agencies are named as defendants.

Unlike other states, Georgia does not also ban puberty blockers, typically the first medical intervention for transgender youth, who normally would next receive hormone therapy.

“Allowing transgender adolescents the use of puberty blockers while banning them from receiving hormonal care is constructing a bridge to nowhere,” said the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group that helped the families with the lawsuit along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Republican-led legislatures in 20 states have passed some type of ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Lawsuits have effectively blocked seven of those laws. Decisions on whether to block such bans in Montana and now Georgia are pending.

When the Georgia Senate passed that state’s bill in March, the sponsor, state Senator Carden Summers, told the chamber that “we are truly protecting the lives of children by not offering the life-altering drugs and of course the surgeries that are completely irreversible,” according to the Georgia Recorder.

Major medical organizations and parents have disputed that argument, calling gender-affirming care medically necessary and sometimes life-saving.

Federal judges have found the bans violate the U.S. Constitution’s right to equal protection by discriminating against trans people, as well as parents’ right to make medical decisions for their children.

On Wednesday, two more states had their laws enjoined, Kentucky and Tennessee. Federal courts in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and Indiana previously blocked similar bans on transgender healthcare for minors, and in Oklahoma the plaintiffs reached an agreement with the attorney general to halt enforcement of the state’s law.

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