ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Thursday a ban in Georgia on most significant forms of gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors, including gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy.
SB 140 was passed by the Georgia Senate earlier this week. It prevents hospitals and related facilities from providing gender reassignment surgery, any surgical procedures designed to alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics, and hormone replacement therapy to people younger than 18 years old in treating gender dysphoria — feelings that biological sex and gender identity are mismatched.
The use of puberty blockers is still allowed in the state under the bill. SB 140 takes effect July 1.
The governor said in a tweeted statement that the law would "protect the health and wellbeing of Georgia's children."
Several organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Georgia Equality, condemned SB140's passage earlier this week. The ACLU of Georgia said that it would sue the state of Georgia if it was signed into law.
The ACLU said the bill "(interferes) with the rights of Georgia parents to get life-saving medical treatment for their children and preventing physicians from properly caring for their patients."
The new law includes exemptions for people with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development or those who need treatments for other medical conditions. Minors who are receiving hormone therapy treatment before July 1 would be allowed to continue.
Language was removed from the legislation that would have protected physicians from being held criminally or civilly liable under the law.
Carden Summers (R-Cordele) is the bill's author. The Republican said during brief remarks before Tuesday's vote that the bill protects Georgia's children. Carden was one of 22 Republican senators to sponsor the bill.
Several Democrats spoke in opposition to the proposed legislation. They spoke for more than an hour and warned the bill would negatively affect the mental health of transgender children and their families.
Kim Jackson, a Stone Mountain Democrat, said the legislation bullies "children in order to score political points."
"Kids will die," said Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Sandy Springs. "Kids will commit suicide. Kids will feel that they're not being heard."
Georgia joins a wave of other states that are limiting or attempting to limit forms of gender-affirming care.
Four states — Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah — signed restrictions into law this year. Roughly two dozens other states are considering bans or limitations, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Laws limiting gender-affirming care in Alabama and Arkansas were blocked by federal courts.