21 August 2023
ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge has blocked the state of Georgia from enforcing a new law that banned doctors from starting hormone therapy for transgender people under the age of 18.
In a ruling issued Sunday, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Geraghty granted a preliminary injunction sought by the parents of several transgender children.
At least 22 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and most of those states face lawsuits. The Georgia law, Senate Bill 140, still allows doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking medications, and it allows minors who are already receiving hormone therapy to continue.
But the law bans any new patients under 18 from starting hormone therapy. It also bans most gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people under 18.
Geraghty’s ruling did not block the surgery ban.
During two days of hearings earlier this month, Geraghty heard conflicting testimony about the safety and benefits of hormone therapy to treat adolescents with gender dysphoria — the distress felt when someone’s gender expression does not match their gender identity.
Experts for the plaintiffs said the benefits of gender-affirming care for adolescents were well-established and profound. Defense experts raised concerns about the risks of hormone treatment and the quality of studies establishing its effectiveness.
In her ruling, Geraghty found that the parents and their middle-school age children have “established that they will suffer irreparable harm” if the children are unable to obtain treatment that has been recommended by their health care providers for their specific mental health needs.
“(T)he 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.
Geraghty said her ruling will block enforcement of the law’s ban on hormone replacement therapy until a further court order or a trial.