New legislation in Georgia targeting gender-affirming health care for transgender minors has health professionals and LGBTQ+ advocates on high alert. Set to take effect on July 1, Senate Bill 140 prohibits doctors in Georgia from offering hormone therapy, puberty blockers or surgery to transgender youths.
Isabel Otero, Georgia policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the measure is a direct threat to a vulnerable group of Georgians and infringes on parental rights in medical decision-making.
“Georgia families deserve privacy and respect when it comes to personal health-care decisions, and these decisions should be left between the families and their medical providers without any political interference,” Otero said.
The bill’s proponents argue that it is necessary to protect children from making irreversible decisions about their bodies. However, health-care professionals point out that gender-affirming care is not a decision made lightly and is only provided after extensive evaluation by medical experts.
Senate Bill 140 goes against recommendations from major medical organizations such as the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, advocates said.
Staci Fox, president and CEO of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute said the measure also threatens to worsen the state’s health-care worker shortage. With only three in counties equipped to care for their residents, attracting and retaining medical professionals becomes even more difficult.
“Criminalization of health-care providers, as research shows, leads to less people applying to medical schools in those states and migration of current providers to states without criminal penalties,” Fox said.
Organizations such as Georgia’s ACLU are taking a strong stance in protecting and advocating for civil liberties and rights. Focused on leveraging legal action, they’re exploring all possible avenues.
Recent data from UCLA reveals more than 18,000 transgender youths have felt the impact of legislative bans that were enacted in Georgia and five other states.
This story was written by Shanteya Hudson, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.