Facing a devastating loss of essential medical care for their children, four Georgia families, along with TransParent, a national organization of parents with transgender children, ask a federal court to block the law from taking effect
ATLANTA — Four Georgia families have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to stop Georgia Senate Bill 140 (“SB 140,” the “Health Care Ban,” or the “Ban”) from taking effect on July 1. The plaintiffs say the law strips them of their right to make critical decisions about their children’s health care, including seeking and obtaining appropriate medical treatment, and inflicts undue harm on one of the state’s most vulnerable groups.
In their complaint and motion requesting to block the law from taking effect, plaintiffs ask that the government not insert itself into personal health care decisions that should be made by parents, children, and their doctors.
Several states, including Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida, have enacted similar Health Care Bans targeting transgender youth, all of which have been enjoined by federal courts in those states. The Georgia law is unique in that it bans one aspect of the medication treatment for gender dysphoria—hormone therapy—while allowing the provision of puberty blockers—even though they go hand-in-hand as part of the full complement of appropriate medical care.
Parent plaintiffs, who have requested a court order allowing them to proceed anonymously based on fears for their safety as a result of the hostility that laws like SB 140 engenders, express the importance of being able to seek and provide the best medical care to support their children’s well-being and to ensure that their children can continue to thrive with access to appropriate medical care, pursuant to recognized standards of care, and according to each child’s individual circumstances and needs:
“It is vital that, as a family, we have agency in our own medical decisions that are in the best interest of our child—that includes gender-affirming care,” said Anna Zoe*. “Our sweet, bright, and creative daughter has been a girl for as long as she can remember. Her identity as a girl is as natural and innate as any of the other attributes she was born with—blue eyes, left-handedness, and an infectious laugh. Access to gender-affirming care will allow our daughter to develop into the person she has always wanted to be, and the person she has always been inside.”
“I am committed to fighting for my daughter’s right to have access to lifesaving, best-practice gender-affirming care,” said Emma Koe*. “This law is targeting transgender youth, their families, and the providers who are following the standards of care. It is taking away my right as a parent to decide what medical care is best for my daughter. Having access to gender-affirming care means my daughter can be the girl she has always known she is. She can grow, develop, and live a happy, authentic life just like any other child in Georgia.”
“My child may not legally have a voice to be heard, but I do, and I will not be silent—I will fight for my child to have the freedom to be exactly who she says she is,” said Hailey Moe*. “Having access to gender-affirming care is critical—it means my daughter has a greater chance of living a happy, thriving, fulfilling life.”
“It is outrageous that Georgia passed a law targeting one of our most vulnerable populations. This is a direct attack on kids who are just trying to be themselves and are now being harmed by the same government that is supposed to protect them,” said Paul Voe*. “I cannot sit back and watch this law negatively impact the mental and physical health of my child and many others across Georgia. I must stand up for what’s right for my kid and every kid like her.”
“SB 140 strips the rights of families to make their own medical decisions by prohibiting safe and effective medical care for treating gender dysphoria. In doing so, the state has banned critically important care that is often lifesaving for transgender youth,” said Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver, Senior Director of Litigation at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. “Our health care providers and families care about nothing more than doing what’s best for their patients and children. We are suing to challenge the unconstitutional attacks on transgender youth and their families. The Human Rights Campaign is dedicated to continuing our work to provide a safe, open, and welcoming Georgia for all to live, work, and raise a family.”
“Prohibiting access to necessary medical care is just cruel,” said Beth Littrell, senior supervising attorney for SPLC’s LGBTQ Rights and Special Litigation at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The Healthcare Ban displaces parents’ ability to make decisions in the best interest of their children, disregards the collective knowledge of the medical community and condemns children to years of suffering. Laws like this are predicated on prejudice, misinformation, and manufactured fears, and they are as indefensible as they are unconstitutional.”
“Georgia parents of transgender youth want what all Georgia parents want—to be able to support and protect their children and to provide them with the care they need to be healthy and thrive. Gender-affirming health care is best-practice, evidence-based medical treatment that is necessary for the health and happiness of many transgender youth. SB 140 prohibits Georgia parents from being able to get their children that essential health care, substituting the will of state politicians for the decision-making of parents and the professional judgment of medical providers. This lawsuit is about securing the rights of Georgia parents to care for their children, and securing the rights of transgender youth to access the medical treatment they need,” said Cory Isaacson, legal director, ACLU of Georgia.
“SB 140 not only threatens the health and well-being of transgender youth in Georgia, it is also unconstitutional. The Health Care Ban singles out transgender minors and denies them essential medical care. It further infringes on the fundamental right of parents to make medical decisions in the best interests of their children. These outcomes cannot be squared with the Constitution,” said Ben Bradshaw of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
The plaintiffs in Emma Koe, et al. v. Caylee Noggle, et al. are represented by the following civil rights organizations: the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the ACLU of Georgia (ACLU-GA), and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
The details of SB 140 can be found here.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.
The ACLU of Georgia (ACLU-GA) enhances and defends the civil liberties and rights of all Georgians through legal action, legislative and community advocacy, and civic education and engagement. ACLU-GA is an inclusive, nonpartisan, statewide organization powered by our members, donors, and active volunteers. www.acluga.org
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community. www.hrc.org
O’Melveny’s award-winning pro bono program regularly takes on pressing issues, including LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, housing, women’s rights, education, veterans affairs, racial justice, criminal justice reform, and voting rights. For additional information, visit www.omm.com/pro-bono.