If a Georgia state representative has her way, doctors who help minors with gender transitions could be charged with a felony.
State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart is currently drafting a bill that would criminalize treatments related to gender transition for youth, including surgery and puberty blockers. “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 told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Specifically, Ehrhart’s proposed bill would ban “mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilization [sic]” for the purpose of gender transition. Doctors could also be jailed for prescribing “puberty-blocking drugs to stop or delay normal puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy.”
Ehrhart’s characterization of treatments isn’t backed up by science. Puberty-blocking medication delays puberty, but doesn’t cause any permanent change. Gender-affirming surgery for minors is very rare and only occurs when doctors deem that it’s medically necessary.
A review of current research in the June 2019 edition of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology supports medical treatments for youth.
“Several preliminary studies have shown benefits of gender-affirming surgery in adolescents, particularly regarding bilateral mastectomy in transgender adolescent males,” reports the study.
And a paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in April 2017 indicates that it may actually be beneficial to perform surgery before minors leave home.
“Younger patients who have the support of their families, support of their parents, and can have the operation while they are still at home, as opposed to being alone at school or at work, anecdotally tend to do much better than someone who is alone and doesn’t have appropriate support,” that study said.
“This legislation would criminalize decisions that are made carefully within families in consultation with medical professionals and mental health professionals,” Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBTQ+ rights organization Georgia Equality, told the Journal-Constitution. “Supporting children in recognizing their gender identity is not only
humane, it saves lives and strengthens families.”
Ginny Ehrhart’s husband, Earl Ehrhart, served in the same seat for the previous 30 years, and exhibited similar transphobia. In 2016, he tried to block the passage of civil rights legislation, objecting to terminology that he said would protect transgender citizens.
Ginny Ehrhart’s opponent in last year’s election was Democrat Jen Slipakoff, who is the parent of a transgender daughter.
When announcing her proposed bill, Ginny Ehrhart issued a press release that quoted Dr. Quentin Van Meter, president of an organization calling itself “The American College of Pediatricians,” not to be confused by the The American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports gender-affirming care.
Despite the similar names, The American College of Pediatricians is not a respected medical organization. It was founded to oppose adoption rights for same-sex parents, and is estimated to have just a few dozen members, compared with 64,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics.