Rep. Josh Bonner, R-Fayetteville, introduces Senate Bill 140 on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

ATLANTA – The Republican-controlled state House of Representatives approved a controversial bill Thursday that would ban some gender-affirming care for transgender Georgia youths.  
Senate Bill 140, which the House passed 96-75 along party lines, would prohibit hospitals and doctors from providing hormone-replacement therapy or gender-affirming surgeries to transgender minors. However, it would allow some gender-related treatment for certain medical conditions and let transgender youths take puberty blockers.  

Doctors and hospitals could lose their licenses for providing such care. And earlier this week, a House committee amended the bill to allow doctors to be held civilly and criminally liable for providing hormone-replacement therapy or gender-affirming surgeries to Georgians under 18. 

“As legislators we are charged with protecting our most vulnerable population in the state,” said Rep. Josh Bonner, R-Fayetteville, the bill’s House sponsor.  “SB 140 does just that by establishing guardrails to ensure that children struggling with identity issues are not rushed into decisions that would alter their bodies forever.” 

“Nothing in this bill stops an adult from pursuing a different lifestyle based on their feelings,” said Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville, in support of the bill.

“We must draw a line for the long-term of children. … I believe that childhood is about giving young people time to develop and letting them learn by trial and error, but still protecting them from long-term harms.”

Democratic legislators spoke out in opposition to the bill, pointing out that major medical societies including the American Academy of Pediatrics support gender-affirming care that can include hormone-replacement therapy and surgery for transgender youths. 

“We think this bill will in fact do real harm to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta. “I really do fear that we may lose some lives by passing this, not save lives but lose lives, and that should give everyone pause.”

House Democrats cited studies that show that transgender youths are much more likely to contemplate or commit suicide than other young people. They also contended the bill is at odds with the GOP’s recent push to protect parental rights.  

“Most of us who are parents … want the freedom to make decisions for our families and our children,” said Rep. Saira Draper, D-Atlanta. “Many of you in this chamber have said as much: You have declared that it is a parent’s right to make decisions about where their children go to school, which books they read and which subjects they study.”

“Yet, SB 140 attempts to substitute the judgement of the state for that of the parents of some of our most vulnerable children, those who identify as transgender. That is wrong, and it is not what this body should stand for.”  

Because the House amended the bill in committee, it now heads back to the Georgia Senate.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.