ATLANTA — A state representative in Georgia has proposed a law that would make it a felony for medical professionals to assist in changing a minor’s gender either through surgery or medication.
State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Marietta, announced on Wednesday in a press release that she intends to introduce “The Vulnerable Child Protection Act” in the 2020 legislative section.
If passed, the act would make it a felony for doctors to perform certain medical procedures on children, such as “sterilization, mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilation.” It would also make it a felony to prescribe “puberty-blocking drugs” and “cross-sex hormone therapy.”
“Cross-sex hormone therapy” is when a biological female is given synthetic testosterone or when a biological male is given synthetic estrogen in an attempt to make the body resemble a different sex.
Speaking to CNA, Ehrhart said that she has been working on the bill for nearly two years and that it was “not a knee-jerk reaction to anything that’s currently in the media,” but she considers it “timely.”
Ehrhart said the aim of the bill was to curb the “dangerous tide” of the increasing number of minor children identifying as transgender and being placed on drugs that delay puberty and on cross-sex hormones.
Studies have found that without puberty-blocking drugs, which delay the production of certain hormones and effectively halt a person’s sexual development, as many as 90% of children who identify as “transgender” eventually resume identifying as their natal sex. A study in the Netherlands from 2010 found that when a child is given hormone blockers, they seldom revert to identifying as their biological gender.
Risks of puberty blockers include reduced bone density, infertility and disruptions to brain development. Their use for the treatment of gender dysphoria is considered to be “off-label” and has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Ehrhart said that the number of children who are seeking to change gender is an “epidemic” that is “really sweeping the country right now.” While solid data concerning the number of transgender children in the United States is not available, the number of “gender clinics” in the country that treat pediatric patients has increased from zero in 2006 to more than 40 in 2018.
In the United Kingdom, where there is one gender clinic for pediatrics, Tavistock GIDS, the number of patients has grown exponentially over the last decade. In 2009-2010, there were 32 girls and 40 boys treated at the clinic. In 2018-2019, that figure had grown to 624 boys and 1,740 girls. A full 20% of these patients were under the age of 12, with 52 children age 6 or below.
Ehrhart told CNA that she has received support from people of both political parties, as well as from members of the transgender community who are opposed to children receiving hormonal treatments or surgeries. She also insists that her bill is not “anti-trans” or “anti-LGBT,” but, rather, against children receiving irreversible surgical procedures they may come to regret.
“This bill does not speak at all [of], nor does it address or attempt to address, the decision of any individual that is of legal adult age, the age of consent, to make these decisions for themselves,” said Ehrhart.
“It is also not an indictment of the LGBT community. It is specifically and narrowly defined. The bill is about child abuse. Period.”