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Senate Bill Targets Trans Youth

This story originally appeared in our May 2023 print edition.
Christine Cox, center, a parent of a transgender teenager, becomes emotional after speaking to Georgia State Sen. Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican, back left, outside the Senate at the Capitol in Atlanta on Monday. Activists appeared at the Capitol to protest against Senate Bill 140, a bill sponsored by Summers that would prevent medical professionals from giving transgender children certain hormones or surgical treatment. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday, March 21, 2023, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. (Arvin Temkar/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS) ©2023 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

On Mar. 23, Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill (SB) 140 into law. The law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2023, restricts transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming healthcare in Georgia. It will prevent people suffering from gender dysphoria who are under the age of 18 from undergoing surgical procedures and hormone replacement therapy, regardless of parental consent. The law will not ban hormone blockers and will not require children who begin hormone replacement therapy before the law goes into effect to stop treatment.

SB 140 was authored by Republican Senator Carden Summers before being passed in the Senate on Mar. 6 and then the House of Representatives on Mar. 16. The bill was then amended by the House, before being confirmed again by the Senate and sent to the governor.

Republican legislators who support the bill have argued that it will protect minors. Said Republican Sen. Ben Watson, “I think it does protect minors from irreversible changes when it comes to hormones and when it comes to surgery, and I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Democrats opposing the bill have argued that it aims to target trans youth by banning treatment scientifically proven to support children struggling with gender dysphoria. Democrats have largely relied on the fact that the law does not conform with most recommendations from health care professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, recommends that children experiencing gender dysphoria receive gender- affirming healthcare, including of the forms SB 140 will ban. In fact, a group of more than 500 medical professionals in Georgia released an open letter in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution publicly opposing the bill.

In 2021, The Trevor Project conducted the first large-scale study designed to examine the effects of hormone therapy among transgender and nonbinary youth. The nonprofit determined that hormone therapy used by people under the age of 18 who wished to receive it was associated with nearly 40% lower odds of depression and suicide attempts.

SB 140 is a recent example of a wave of bills aimed at transgender youth to be passed by states. Georgia currently has four anti-LGBTQ+ bills advancing in Congress (excluding SB 140), three of which are specifically directed at LGBTQ+ youth. SB 141, for example, would build on the work of SB 140 by prohibiting health care  professionals from performing procedures on minors aimed to alter their appearance for gender purposes.

Georgia is not alone in this recent surge in legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community. There are currently 452 bills of this sort advancing through state legislatures, 118 of which are specifically pertaining to healthcare, and 211 of which are directed at education and schools. Many fear the GOP is waging a war on the transgender community. Certain prominent Republicans have expressed their goals vocally. From the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), conservative commentator Michael Knowles spoke on his beliefs regarding anti-transgender legislation: “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely… There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing.”

Says Allie Gilbert ’23, “SB 140 will cause people to die… This bill itself is just an indicator of the broader strategy of the American right. Their goal is to chip away at human rights one ‘reasonable’ bit at a time to keep us distracted from the real issue of class struggle and benefit themselves and the corporations they represent. Let us not ignore the fact that most Georgians are against this bill.”

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Maisey Brown
Maisey Brown, Editor-in-Chief

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