Georgia lawmakers passed Senate Bill 140 along party lines in the Senate late Monday night, Crossover Day, to the dismay of the ACLU of Georgia and the numerous LGBTQ+ organizations and advocates who have been speaking out against this harmful piece of legislation.
“The state-sponsored attacks on transgender youth this year are troubling. SB 140 is one of more than 380 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in legislatures across the country and one of four introduced in Georgia this session,” said Sarah Hunt-Blackwell, ACLU of Georgia policy advocate. “The ACLU of Georgia remains in tireless opposition to SB 140 as it moves to the House.”
SB 140 prevents transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy in Georgia by subjecting licensed physicians who administer the care to medical board license revocation. Hospitals and medical institutions could be closed simply for offering hormone treatment to transgender youth, depriving other patients of many healthcare services. We’re continuing to oppose this measure because it’s clearly cruel, it adds to an already struggling health care environment in the state, and it removes needed protections for young people experiencing gender dysphoria.
On Monday night, two lawmakers encouraged their colleagues to vote with compassion and empathy and not pass the bill before the Senate unceremoniously locked in its 33-22 vote.
Sen. Sally Harrell, who serves District 40 (DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties), took to the podium and spoke from experience against the bill, sharing that she has a transgender son. She said it’s important for advocates, including herself, to share their stories and use them for good.
“This is my story. I didn’t choose this story, but I did choose to be a mom … The problem I have with this bill is that it only addresses what we won’t do for our children. Instead, I feel like what we really need to focus on is what we can do for these kids. We cannot take away treatment for these kids without having something else in place, and we don’t have anything else in place,” Harrell said.
The senator noted that medical professionals worldwide recently rewrote the standards of care for transgender youth due to a spike in suicides among young people experiencing gender dysphoria. Fourty-five percent of transgender and non-binary youth across the United States seriously considered suicide in the past year, according to a survey released by The Trevor Project in December. More medical and mental health professionals who have been educated and trained on transgender care are needed to address this crisis; banning surgical procedures and hormone therapy is not the answer, she said.
Sen. Kim Jackson, District 41 (DeKalb and Gwinnett counties), told the Senate that when the state fails to provide youth with medically-supported gender affirming care, the outcomes are well documented — they harm themselves because they are not receiving the necessary and life-saving care they deserve.
“I’m not making these things up, we know this to be true. I understand that (senators in the chamber) may not understand what it means to be transgender … You don’t have to understand it; I’m just asking you to be compassionate and empathetic,” said Jackson.
She additionally argued against some of her colleagues’ stance that SB 140 protects children by pointing out that youth who cannot obtain legal hormone treatments often turn to black market products with potentially deadly side effects.
We stand in solidarity with Georgia’s transgender youth and state lawmakers who oppose any and all anti-LGBTQ+ measures. Our allies also spoke out against the passage of SB 140. Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham issued the following statement on Monday night:
"We are saddened by the Senate passage of SB 140 tonight. Parents, working with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care, should be able to make decisions regarding their child's healthcare. This bill sets a dangerous precedent when legislators second guess those standards of care. And it is nothing short of extremist government overreach,” Graham said.