ATLANTA — A new bill would prohibit Georgians under age 18 from receiving gender-changing hormone therapy or surgery.
“The state has a compelling interest to protect all young Georgians from harm,” said Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, the bill’s main sponsor. “Allowing Georgians who cannot legally vote, smoke, or purchase a firearm to make a high-stakes decision with irreparable consequences is dangerous and must be addressed immediately by the Georgia General Assembly.”
The eight-page bill includes a long list of procedures that would be barred, including gender-changing hormone therapy and surgical procedures.
The legislation includes some exceptions, including for people who are “born with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development” and for the treatment of “a physical disorder … injury … or illness that is certified by a physician.”
A physician who provides any of the services to a person under 18 would be considered to have committed “unprofessional conduct” and would be subject to discipline by their licensing board.
The bill would prevent school employees, including teachers and counselors, from “encourag[ing] or coerc[ing] a minor not to tell their parent or guardian that “the minor’s perception of his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex.” It would also prevent school employees themselves from keeping that information from parents.
Medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support gender-change drugs or surgery for youth under age 18 when the physician and family deem it appropriate.
“There is strong consensus among the most prominent medical organizations worldwide that evidence-based, gender-affirming care for transgender children and adolescents is medically necessary and appropriate,” Dr. Moira Szilagyi, then president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote last year. “It can even be lifesaving.”
The legislation drew immediate criticism.
“Our representatives should not be substituting their judgment for that of parents and families with regard to the most private and intimate of medical decisions,” said Peter Isbister, a leader of the group TransParent, a support organization for the families of transgender youth that represents 80 families from across Georgia.
“If passed, this legislation will cause untold anguish and suffering for our families,” Isbister added, noting families could be forced to leave the state if the bill passes. “It is not good for, and should be rejected by, our beloved state.”
One unintended consequence of the bill could be the prohibition of circumcision, said state Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain. That’s because the bill includes a provision that would prohibit the removal of “any healthy or nondiseased body part or tissue.”
Circumcision is a common practice and is required or strongly encouraged in some religions, including Judaism and Islam.
The state Senate will assign the bill to a committee as early as Feb. 13.
— This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.
Here’s the text of that bill: