Georgia Senate OKs changes to bill banning some gender-affirming care for trans youth
ATLANTA - The Georgia Senate has approved the House's changes to a bill that would restrict some gender-affirming care.
SB 140 now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk where the governor is expected to sign the bill into law.
Most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies for transgender people under 18 would be banned in Georgia under the measure. Doctors could still prescribe medicines to block puberty under the bill.
"What we're doing here is we're preventing minors under 18 years old from having irreversible changes in their lives," said state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah.
Opponents said the measure would hurt transgender children by requiring physicians to violate medical standards of care. They also said it would block parents from doing what they think is best for their children.
"In other states, we've seen bills like these are just the beginning. They're going to continue to get worse," said Adam Phillips, a transgender 15-year-old from Savannah.
Republicans denied that they wished anyone harm, saying they had the best interest of children at heart, and wanted people to be able to obtain counseling. Supporters insisted the Georgia measure would protect children from making irreversible decisions before they have fully matured.
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The measure is part of a nationwide effort by conservatives to restrict transgender athletes, gender-affirming care and drag shows.
Judges have temporarily blocked laws limiting the treatment of transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama, and opponents have suggested that such a law would be found unconstitutional by federal and state courts in Georgia.
Governors in Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota have signed similar bills.
"I do hope that the governor will think long and hard about the full implications of this politically-motivated bill that Georgians do not want," said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.
Supporters say transgender youth can then decide to pursue further measures after they are adults. But opponents say such an enforced pause is harmful.
Some conservative groups have been pushing for harsher restrictions, including bans on puberty blockers and criminal penalties for doctors who violate the bill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.