Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele) presenting SB 140 to House Public Health Committee
Credit: GPB News

The House Public Health Committee passed a controversial bill that would restrict gender affirming medical care for transgender minors on Day 33. 

Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Sen. Carden Summers (R - Cordele) would ban hospitals and doctors from treating transgender people under age 18 with surgeries and hormone replacement therapy.

It leaves room for doctors to prescribe puberty blockers to transgender minors.

Violators could lose their medical license. The bill passed the Senate in a party line vote on Crossover Day.

Summers said the aim of SB 140 is to prevent children from making permanent changes to their bodies that they may regret later.

"The basic crux of this bill is simply to pause and allow young people to get a little bit more mature before they make this decision," he said. 

Critics of the bill say that the number of transgender youths who regret transitioning may be lower than SB 140's sponsors realize.

The American Academy of Pediatrics found that after five years of transition, only about 2.5% of 371 transgender youth returned to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Surgeries related to transition are rare and limited for children under 18 already, experts say.

Elizabeth Downey, a nurse and mother of a transgender daughter spoke in opposition to SB 140. Her daughter socially transitioned at age seven after years of contemplation. 

"Throughout her life, our unwavering love and affirming support has allowed her to thrive socially and mentally at home, in school and within our community. My daughter deserves health care that is compassionate and tailored to meet her needs," she said.

Downey's daughter is now 11 years old and on puberty blockers. Downey said that her daughter plans to take hormone replacers when she is eligible. 

The committee added an amendment to remove a section that prevents doctors performing surgeries or hormone replacement from being held liable in court. 

The bill passed 12 to 10 in a party-line vote.

SB 140 now moves to the Rules committee, where members will decide if the bill will receive a floor vote. If the bill passes the House, it will need to be approved again by the Senate because of the amendment.