Georgia judge issues temporary block on gender-affirming healthcare ban: ‘An incredible victory’

Protester holds up sign reading "trans kids deserve to grow up"

A federal judge has issued a temporary block on a policy that seeks to ban the provision of gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth across the US state of Georgia.

In an 83-page order, district judge Sarah Geraghty ruled that Georgia’s law, passed last month, that prohibits licensed medical professionals from providing patients under 18 with hormone therapy, was “likely” to be unconstitutional.

The preliminary order was issued on Sunday, preventing Senate Bill 140 from being issued while a case – filed by four families alongside TransParent, an organisation representing parents with transgender children – was heard.

Elsewhere, courts in Arkansas, Indiana, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee have blocked bans on similar policies, although in the last two of those states that has now been reversed on appeal. Meanwhile, the ban in Arkansas was overturned in June after being found to be in violation of the First Amendment and the constitution’s clauses on equal protection and due process.

“This decision is an incredible victory for Georgia families,” The Advocate reported the plaintiffs’ counsel as saying. “We are gratified that the court carefully considered the evidence and appropriately applied the law.

“This law unapologetically targets transgender minors and denies them essential health care. 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.

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“Using hormone therapy to treat transgender youth when it is medically necessary is supported by every major medical organisation in the country. Indeed, the court found that the ban would be likely to put some individuals at risk of the serious harms associated with gender dysphoria that gender-affirming care seeks to prevent.”

In March, officials in Houston County in Georgia allegedly spent at least $1.2 million (approximately £942,000) to avoid picking up the bill for a transgender woman’s gender-affirming healthcare, despite claims that the care itself was too expensive for the state to cover.

The care was proposed for deputy sheriff Anna Lange, who requested gender-affirming surgery under her insurance plan after she came out to her colleagues in 2017. The cost of the treatment she requested equated to about two per cent – roughly $25,600 (£20,100) – of what the state spent on lawyers opposing her claim.

“The sheriff might not endorse my transition, but as long as I work hard for him and maintain a high level of efficiency for Houston County, that’s what is most important”, she told a meeting of the board of commissioners in 2019.

“I pay the same taxes and premiums as every other Houston County citizen, yet I do not receive equal coverage in medical care.”

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