A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of a Georgia law that bans gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
In a ruling late Sunday, Judge Sarah E. Geraghty in the Northern District of Georgia said the state’s law banning hormone therapy “is substantially likely to violate the Equal Protection Clause.”
Geraghty said the plaintiffs, four anonymous transgender children and their parents, showed a likelihood of succeeding on the merits at trial. Minors will be allowed to receive the treatment while the case progresses.
“Plaintiffs have established that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction,” Geraghty wrote, including risks of depression, anxiety, disordered eating, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
“Without an injunction, the middle-school age plaintiffs will be unable to obtain in Georgia a course of treatment that has been recommended by their health care providers in light of their individual diagnoses and mental health needs,” the ruling said.
The two major provisions of the law prohibit minors from receiving hormone replacement therapies and sex reassignment surgeries from licensed health care facilities to treat gender dysphoria. Medical providers could lose their licenses if they violate the law.
However, the initial complaint was only about hormone therapy and did not address surgery.
The lawsuit argues that the ban violates parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children’s health and well-being and stops them from obtaining appropriate medical treatment for their children who have gender dysphoria.
The state argued any preliminary injunction, if it were issued, should be narrowed only to the children who are currently part of the lawsuit.
Geraghty said a narrowly focused injunction would be unworkable, both because of the practical difficulty in obtaining care under the law, and also because it might not even be possible to “fashion an injunction that would allow them to secure relief without compromising their anonymity.”
The Republican-controlled Georgia state Legislature passed the bill in March, and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed it into law shortly after. Kemp said the law protects “the health and well-being of Georgia’s children.”
The measure is part of a wave of bills targeting transgender care for minors being passed in GOP-led states, many of which have subsequently been challenged in court.
In June, a judge in Indiana issued a temporary injunction largely blocking a state ban. A federal court also struck down Arkansas’s ban on the grounds it violated the Equal Protection Clause. But a federal appeals court last month allowed bans in Tennessee and Kentucky to go into effect.
In a statement, attorneys for the plaintiffs praised the ruling, calling it a victory for parents.
“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,” the attorneys said.
“We are hopeful that the strong rejection of this harmful, prejudicial law will stop the relentless attacks on the rights of transgender youth and their families.”