ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed a bill into law that bans health care providers from providing certain hormones or surgical treatment to children to align with their gender identity.
Senate Bill 140 passed the Legislature on a party-line vote, with Republicans supporting it.
“As Georgians, parents and elected leaders, it is our highest responsibility to safeguard the bright, promising futures of our kids — and SB 140 takes an important step in fulfilling that mission,” Kemp said in a statement.
The bill will take effect July 1.
Supporters of SB 140 say the bill protects children from taking steps toward gender transition that are permanent. Opponents say the bill goes against published medical “standards of care” and would end up hurting transgender children, who commit suicide at a higher rate than their nontransgender peers.
SB 140 will ban health care professionals from giving hormones such as estrogen or testosterone to transgender minors. Doctors also will not be allowed to perform surgeries on children seeking to align with their gender identity.
Medical professionals are still allowed to prescribe a hormone treatment that aims to delay puberty or stop it from progressing under the proposal. Children who don’t identify with their biological sex at a young age are often prescribed the puberty blockers.
The bill includes an exception for the treatment of intersex children — those who are not born with the genitalia, chromosomes or reproductive organs of only one gender. There are allowances for physicians to treat children for nongender-related reasons, such as a sexual development disorder or an injury or infection.
SB 140 will also allow minors to continue receiving hormone treatments if they began before July 1.
Kemp skipped the bill signing ceremony he sometimes holds for high profile bills, instead announcing he signed the bill on Twitter.
State Sen. Carden Summers, a Cordele Republican who sponsored the bill, said he didn’t know Kemp would sign SB 140 so quickly, but said he was “tickled” to learn it had been signed.
“I think he signed it because he realized the importance of the bill,” Summers said. “None of us could support a bill that was zero tolerance like some of the other states put out. That bill was written simply to protect children and I’m sorry it got morphed into something that it wasn’t.”
Hours after the vote, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia announced that it would sue the state if Kemp signs the bill. ACLU of Georgia Legal Director Cory Isaacson said Tuesday’s vote showed the Georgia Legislature has “chosen to place politics before patient care.”
Representatives for the ACLU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.