By Natasha Cobos | Staff Writer
State Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett) is sponsoring a bill that would block Georgians under the age of 18 from receiving gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.
Senate Bill 141 is eight pages long and covers medical procedures such as surgery and gender-affirming hormone therapy. The bill also prohibits teachers and school counselors from encouraging children under 18 to keep their gender-identity from their parents or guardians, or from keeping that information private from guardians once a minor has expressed their feelings.
Exceptions included in the bill are people born with disordered sexual development and those being treated for injury, physical disorder or illness that has been professionally certified by a physician. SB 141 also makes exceptions for cisgender children experiencing early puberty who may need to receive hormone blockers to delay their bodily changes.
One concern regarding the bill is prohibition of circumcision procedures, a common religious practice, because it specifically bars the removal of “non diseased or otherwise healthy tissue.”
Health organizations and officials, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, which fully support gender-reassignment procedures for transgender youth, assert that prohibiting such treatments may cause distress to patients and their families.
Dixon has spoken out about SB 141, stating, “They can’t join the army; they can’t buy alcohol — there’s a lot of things that they can’t do before they’re of age, and this is definitely one of them in my opinion.”
The Senate previously passed SB 140, which limited gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy in what lawmakers referred to as a “wait-and-see” method. Democratic leaders argue that while the AAP reported that 2.5% of transgender people have had surgeries reversed, the benefits outweigh the risks. A Harvard University study asserted that gender-affirming procedures reduced transgender suicidal ideation by 44%. SB 141 would ban these procedures altogether until the age of 18, which one Atlanta-based pediatric endocrinologist states is a vital part of healthy development. The Georgia Recorder reported that Dr. Quentin Van Meter spoke in favor of SB 141 due to the impact puberty has on shaping the systems and overall growth.
“I’m passionate about it because I deeply care for children,” Van Meter said. “I know hormones are necessary and puberty is not a disease.”
GASB141 is currently under review and can be viewed online here.