Georgia House passes bill blocking some youth transgender surgeries, hormone therapy
ATLANTA (WUPA) -- The Georgia House has passed SB 140, prohibiting doctors from performing some transgender care surgeries and providing hormone treatments to persons under the age of 18. An amendment to the bill says doctors could face possible criminal charges if they violate the law.
Katie Leikam, a psychotherapist and gender specialist based in Decatur, said she opposes the bill.
"I'm concerned that trans kids are gonna start self-harming or have suicidal ideations more than they already do. I'm concerned that people will die," Leikam said. "It sets a really bad standard for doctors, surgeons, and mental health professionals. That is a pendulum that is gonna be swung in Georgia that can swing either way."
Leikam diagnoses transgender youth with gender dysphoria.
"Gender dysphoria is both a feeling that people can have, and incongruence between their assigned sex at birth, and their gender that they present to the world," she said.
As part of her practice, she recommends gender-affirming surgery for some of her patients.
"While youth are not really getting as many surgeries, they are on hormones," Leikam said. "That is a live-saving medical, documented standards of care measurement for youth."
Lawmakers on opposite sides weighed in before the House vote.
"It simply asks doctors to pause any irreversible treatments and surgeries on an individual until they're 18. When a child's brain is more developed, they can more fully understand the potential side effects of certain chemicals and treatments," State Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) said, while voicing his opposition.
Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), the first openly gay woman elected to the state legislature, was far more emotional about the measure.
"There is absolutely no academic rigor associated with anything in these findings," Drenner said. "I believe that you mean well, but this is wrong."
The bill now returns to the Senate for consideration, and we could learn the outcome as early as next week. If it passes that body, it would move to the governor's desk for his signature.
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