A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of Georgia’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, ordering state officials to stop enforcing a key provision of the law more than a month after it took effect.
In an 83-page order issued Sunday, US District Judge Sarah Geraghty said the provision of Georgia’s law that bars licensed medical professionals in the state from providing patients under the age of 18 with cross-sex hormone therapy is “likely” unconstitutional. The law, Senate Bill 140, went into effect July 1.
Geraghty, an appointee of President Joe Biden, said the preliminary injunction against that portion of the law prevents state officials from enforcing it against all minors in the state, not just the minor plaintiffs who brought the legal challenge in late June. She said her order will remain in effect “pending trial, or until further order of the Court.”
Gender-affirming care spans a range of evidence-based treatments and approaches. The types of care vary by the age and goals of the recipient, and are considered the standard of care by many mainstream medical associations.
“Considering the record evidence as discussed at length in previous sections of this order, the Court determines that the imminent risks of irreparable harm to Plaintiffs flowing from the ban – including risks of depression, anxiety, disordered eating, self-harm, and suicidal ideation – outweigh any harm the State will experience from the injunction,” Geraghty wrote in the order.
SB 140 also bans medical professionals in Georgia from providing surgery related to gender transition to minors, but that provision of the law was not blocked by Geraghty because the plaintiffs didn’t challenge it in their lawsuit. The judge noted in her order that such interventions “are generally not considered until adulthood.”
An analysis conducted by Reuters and Komodo and released last year that examined US patients’ insurance claims from 2019 to 2021 found just 56 “genital surgeries” among patients ages 13 to 17 in the United States “with a prior gender dysphoria diagnosis.”
Enacting restrictions on gender-affirming care for trans youth has emerged as a key issue for conservatives, with at least 20 states having limited components of the care in recent years. When Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB 140 in March he argued the law would “ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of Georgia’s children.”
CNN has reached out to Kemp’s office for comment.
The legal challenge to SB 140 was brought in late June by four transgender youth in the state and their families, as well as an advocacy group whose work includes “connecting families of transgender children to local practitioners who provide gender-affirming medical care,” according to the complaint.
“The Health Care Ban does nothing to protect the health or well-being of minors. To the contrary, the Ban undermines the health and well-being of transgender minors by denying them essential medical care,” lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint.
The law allows minors who started “hormone replacement therapies” before July 1 to continue the treatment. None of the minor plaintiffs have started the therapy, according to the lawsuit, though all of them are planning to in the future. Two of the minors are taking puberty-blocking medication, the suit said.
The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP
“This decision is an incredible victory for Georgia families,” the attorneys said in a joint statement on Monday. “The ruling restores parents’ rights to make medical decisions that are in their child’s best interest, including hormone therapy for their transgender children when needed for them to thrive and be healthy.”