Georgia lawmaker: Make aiding gender transition of minors a felony

A Georgia state lawmaker wants to make it a felony for medical professionals to help a minor with gender transition.

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State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said the legislation aims to protect children from having irreversible procedures done when they are young. Current law requires a parent to consent to surgery or for a minor to be prescribed medication.

While the bill is still being drafted, Ehrhart said Georgia medical providers who perform surgeries or administer or prescribe medications that assist minors with gender transition could be charged with a felony. The legislation would not affect doctors working with adults who seek to undergo gender transition.

“We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia, but can be castrated and get sterilized,” she said.

Jeff Graham, executive director of LGBTQ rights organization Georgia Equality, called Ehrhart’s proposal “shameful.”

“This legislation would criminalize decisions that are made carefully within families in consultation with medical professionals and mental health professionals,” he said. “Supporting children in recognizing their gender identity is not only humane, it saves lives and strengthens families.”

Specific procedures that Ehrhart said would be banned -- if the measure is approved by the General Assembly -- include "mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilization" for gender transition, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Banned medications would include giving minors "puberty-blocking drugs to stop or delay normal puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy."

“The removal of otherwise healthy or non-diseased body parts from minor children would also be prohibited,” according to her news release.

Ehrhart said she was motivated to draft the bill in response to a battle between divorced parents in Texas over a 7-year-old child whose mother says identifies as a girl. The child's father was seeking to be the child's sole decision-maker and says the 7-year-old "acts like a boy" around him and that his ex-wife is forcing the child to transition to a girl.

A judge last week ruled that the parents would continue to make joint decisions about the child. The case has been shared widely on social media and conservative news sites in recent weeks.

Ehrhart said she may include language that could punish parents for allowing a child to undergo gender transition.

“There may be some implication for the responsibility of the parent to subject the child to this sort of dangerous medical intervention,” she said.

In her news release, Ehrhart included quotes from Atlanta-based pediatric endocrinologist Quentin Van Meter, who said the proposal is needed to protect children from “medical experimentation based on wishful social theory."

“These children are suffering from a psychological condition without biologic basis,” Van Meter said. “Using the bludgeon of threatened suicide as justification is first of all cruel, and secondly, not supported by valid published studies.”

Graham said banning children from aligning physically with their gender identity is troubling.

“(Ehrhart’s) contention that this is damaging to children or society is without merit and is a result of the dangerous trend from the most conservative forces to demonize and strip transgender individuals of their humanity,” he said.

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