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Federal judge blocks Georgia ban on hormone treatment for transgender minors

Photo by Vincenzo Nuzzolese/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge has struck down a new Georgia law that bans physicians from using hormone therapy on minors who identify as transgender. The ruling was issued Sunday by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Geraghty.

Geraghty granted a preliminary injunction sought out by several transgender children and their parents. "The 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," she said.

The Associated Press reported that Geraghty's recent ruling will block the state of Georgia from enforcing a ban on hormone replacement therapy until a court order or trial.

Geraghty wrote in her ruling: “The desired outcome of the banned treatments — as no one disputes — is to begin a physical transition so that the adolescent patient’s development and appearance do not conform to those expected of the patient’s birth sex, but rather to the patient’s gender identity."

“In other words, [the law] therefore bans the use of cross-sex hormones only for those whose gender identity and natal sex are incongruent, and only for the purpose of achieving gender-nonconforming physical characteristics.”

The Georgia law, Senate Bill 140, bans new patients under 18 years old from beginning hormone therapy. It also disallows most "gender-affirming" procedures for transgender people under 18. However, doctors are allowed to prescribe puberty-blocking medications, and the law also permits minors who are already receiving hormone therapy to continue.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Geraghty said hormone therapy treatment improves mental health, as well as reducing self-harm and suicidal thoughts. In 2020, the Heritage Foundation published a piece arguing that most data at the time suggested hormone therapy does not indicate improved mental health.

“A ban on hormone therapy would deprive patients of the possibility of these benefits,” Geraghty said. “It would, indeed, be likely to put some individuals at risk of the serious harms associated with gender dysphoria that gender-affirming care seeks to prevent.”

A number of Georgia families filed a lawsuit against the state in June, with parents claiming that the law removes the rights of parents to make health care decisions for their children. The complaint was filed just over a day before the law was set to take effect on July 1.

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However, those in support of the law says it protects children from undergoing procedures that could have irreversible effects. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that people identifying as transgender may be victims of a social contagion, where people feel influenced to change their gender identity due to social media and other influences.

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