ATLANTA (AP) – A bill banning most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies in Georgia for transgender people under 18 is headed to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk after Senators approved on Tuesday.
Senators voted 31-21 along party lines with Republicans pushing Senate Bill 140 despite impassioned appeals from Democrats and LGBTQ advocates against what has become the most fiercely contested bill of the session Georgia Legislature of 2023
It’s part of a nationwide effort by conservatives to limit transgender athletes, gender-affirming cures, and drag shows. The governors of Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota have signed similar bills. The Missouri Senate moved a pair of bills on Tuesday to ban gender-transitional health treatments for minors and prevent them from competing in sports.
Andrew Isenhour, a spokesman for Kemp, would not say whether the Republican governor would sign the bill. Opponents said they believe the bill would be an unconstitutional violation of parental rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia threatened to sue Tuesday if the bill becomes law. Judges have at least temporarily blocked laws restricting the treatment of transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama.
Doctors may still be able to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs under the Georgia bill, but Republicans say restrictions on other treatments are needed to keep kids from making decisions they’ll later regret.
“I think we’ve struck a good balance here,” said Republican Sen. Ben Watson, a Savannah physician who helped draft the measure. their lives.”
But opponents say the measure is based on misinformation and a desire to open a new front in the culture war to please conservative Republican voters, claiming it attacks vulnerable children and meddles in private medical decisions.
“Broadly speaking, this is really about us bullying kids for political points, and that to me is extraordinarily disheartening,” said Senator Kim Jackson, a Stone Mountain Democrat and the first openly gay member of the Senate.
The Senate had to revote the bill after previously passing it because the House amended it to remove a clause that specifically protected doctors from criminal and civil liability. That change had been pushed by conservative groups who wanted people who later regret their treatment to be able to sue their doctor, though it’s unclear how large that group might be.
Opponents said the measure would harm transgender children and require doctors to violate medical standards of care. They also accused Republicans of being self-righteous by abandoning earlier advocacy of parental rights to make choices.
“The rule seems to be that we are for parental rights when parents make decisions we agree with, and when they make decisions we disagree with, we outlaw them,” said Senator Elena Parent, a Atlanta Democrat.
Opponents have criticized Republicans for failing to heed heavy pressure from transgender youth and their parents in recent weeks, saying they were further marginalizing a group already prone to taking their own lives at disturbing rates.
“We’re going to go back to our corners and continue to do the same bullshit we always do when there’s a divisive, partisan culture war issue at issue,” said Sen. Josh McLaurin, a Democrat from Atlanta. “And in the meantime, children will die. Children will commit suicide. Children will feel that they are not being heard, that their basic existence is being invalidated, erased.”
Republicans denied wanting to harm anyone, saying they had the best interests of children at heart and wanted people to be able to get counseling.
“I can’t wait to look people straight in the eye and tell them I’m compassionate to their request and understand their passion, but we’re doing the right thing by protecting children,” said Senator Carden Summers, the Republican of Cordele who sponsored the bill.
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