Judge Says Georgia Ban On Gender-Affirming Care For Minors Can Resume

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Georgia’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors can resume fully, just one month after placing a preliminary injunction on the legislation.

Under this ban, which took effect on July 1, licensed medical professionals are prohibited from providing gender-affirming services — such as gender transition surgery or hormone replacement therapy — to transgender people under the age of 18.

The ban was challenged by three transgender minors, their parents and a community organization. They argued that prohibiting hormone replacement therapy is a violation of clauses in the 14th Amendment. U.S. District Judge Sarah Geraghty ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that the ban was unconstitutional and “substantially likely to violate the Equal Protection Clause.”

On Aug. 20, Geraghty placed a preliminary injunction on the ban, specifically blocking the enforcement of the part of the ban that prohibits doctors from providing hormone therapy to minors, The New York Times reported. (The judge did not issue an injunction on the part of the law that prohibits gender transition surgery for minors because plaintiffs in the case did not challenge that part of the law.)

“Considering the record evidence as discussed at length in previous sections of this order, the Court determines that the imminent risks of irreparable harm to Plaintiffs flowing from the ban ― including risks of depression, anxiety, disordered eating, self-harm, and suicidal ideation ― outweigh any harm the State will experience from the injunction,” Geraghty wrote in the order in August.

But lawyers representing the state in the case, along with the state’s attorney general, called on the judge to reconsider her temporary block, citing an appeals court ruling on a similar law in Alabama that was made the day after Geraghty’s ruling.

In Alabama, a district judge had partly blocked a law similar to the one in Georgia that banned hormone treatment and puberty blockers for transgender minors. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed the ruling and allowed the Alabama law to take full effect. The 11th Circuit’s jurisdiction includes Georgia.

According to the court filing from Geraghty on Tuesday, the 11th Circuit judges determined that Alabama’s law on gender-affirming care for minors was “subject to rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause” and that the plaintiffs in that case didn’t satisfy the standard for a preliminary injunction.

Geraghty confirmed in the court filing that the preliminary injunction on the Georgia ban will be vacated, allowing the law to once again take full effect. She wrote in the filing that it is “undisputed” that the preliminary injunction “rests on legal grounds that have been squarely rejected” by the appellate panel in the Alabama case.

A final decision on the defendants’ request for reconsideration of the temporary block on the Georgia law will be made based on potential rehearings in the Alabama case, according to the Tuesday court filing from the judge.

Georgia’s ban is among the record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ legislation that has been introduced in states around the country this year. At least 19 states have passed laws banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, CNN reported.