Georgia parents seek emergency court order blocking anti-trans health care ban

Person in a black coat holding a megaphone and a transgender flag
Campaign for Southern Equality photo Unsplash by Karollyne Hubert

Four Georgia families and TransParent ask a federal court to block the law from taking effect

Four Georgia families have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to stop Georgia Senate Bill 140 (the “Health Care Ban”) from taking effect in July. The plaintiffs say the law strips them of their right to make critical decisions about their children’s health care, including seeking and obtaining appropriate medical treatment, and inflicts undue harm on one of the state’s most vulnerable groups.

In their complaint and motion requesting to block the law from taking effect, plaintiffs ask that the government not insert itself into personal health care decisions that should be made by parents, children, and their doctors.

“Prohibiting access to necessary medical care is just cruel,” Beth Littrell, Senior Supervising Attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s LGBTQ Rights and Special Litigation said. “The Health Care Ban displaces parents’ ability to make decisions in the best interest of their children, disregards the collective knowledge of the medical community, and condemns children to years of suffering. Laws like this are predicated on prejudice, misinformation, and manufactured fears, and they are as indefensible as they are unconstitutional.”

Several states, including Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida, have enacted similar health care bans targeting transgender youth, all of which have been enjoined by federal courts in those states. The Georgia law is unique in that it bans one aspect of the medication treatment for gender dysphoria — hormone therapy — while allowing the provision of puberty blockers, even though they go hand-in-hand as part of the full complement of appropriate medical care.

Parent plaintiffs have requested a court order allowing them to proceed anonymously based on fears for their safety. They expressed the importance of being able to seek and provide the best medical care to support their children’s well-being and to ensure that their children can continue to thrive with access to appropriate medical care, pursuant to recognized standards of care and according to each child’s individual circumstances and needs. 

“It is outrageous that Georgia passed a law targeting one of our most vulnerable populations. This is a direct attack on kids who are just trying to be themselves and are now being harmed by the same government that is supposed to protect them,” parent Paul Voe said. “I cannot sit back and watch this law negatively impact the mental and physical health of my child and many others across Georgia. I must stand up for what’s right for my kid and every kid like her.”

“It is vital that, as a family, we have agency in our own medical decisions that are in the best interest of our child. That includes gender-affirming care,” parent Anna Zoe said. “Our sweet, bright, and creative daughter has been a girl for as long as she can remember. Her identity as a girl is as natural and innate as any of the other attributes she was born with — blue eyes, left-handedness, and an infectious laugh. Access to gender-affirming care will allow our daughter to develop into the person she has always wanted to be, and the person she has always been inside. ”

“I am committed to fighting for my daughter’s right to have access to lifesaving, best-practice gender-affirming care,” parent Emma Koe said. “This law is targeting transgender youth, their families, and the providers who are following the standards of care. It is taking away my right as a parent to decide what medical care is best for my daughter. Having access to gender-affirming care means my daughter can be the girl she has always known she is. She can grow, develop, and live a happy, authentic life just like any other child in Georgia.”

“My child may not legally have a voice to be heard, but I do, and I will not be silent. I will fight for my child to have the freedom to be exactly who she says she is,” parent Hailey Moe said. “Having access to gender-affirming care is critical. It means my daughter has a greater chance of living a happy, thriving, fulfilling life.”

The plaintiffs in Emma Koe, et al. v. Caylee Noggle, et al. are represented by the SPLC, the ACLU of Georgia (ACLU-GA),  the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP. The representers voiced their opinions on the situation and reasons for proceeding with the lawsuit. 

“Georgia parents of transgender youth want what all Georgia parents want — to be able to support and protect their children and to provide them with the care they need to be healthy and thrive. Gender-affirming health care is best-practice, evidence-based medical treatment that is necessary for the health and happiness of many transgender youth,” Cory Isaacson, legal director of ACLU-GA said. “SB 140 prohibits Georgia parents from being able to get their children that essential health care, substituting the will of state politicians for the decision-making of parents and the professional judgment of medical providers. This lawsuit is about securing the rights of Georgia parents to care for their children, and securing the rights of transgender youth to access the medical treatment they need.” 

“SB 140 strips the rights of families to make their own medical decisions by prohibiting safe and effective medical care for treating gender dysphoria. In doing so, the state has banned critically important care that is often lifesaving for transgender youth,” Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver, Senior Director of Litigation at HRC said. “Our health care providers and families care about nothing more than doing what’s best for their patients and children. We are suing to challenge the unconstitutional attacks on transgender youth and their families.”

Out In Jersey News Editor Chelsey Johnstone is an award-winning multimedia journalist and editor with a passion for honest reporting. A recent graduate of Montclair State University, Chelsey has spent over 5 years writing for publications such as The College VOICE, TrentonDaily, Unclear Magazine, Montclair Local News and more. Now, Chelsey is working to advance her journalist skills at Out in Jersey Magazine with the hope of positively impacting the world of reporting.