By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday allowed the state of Georgia to resume enforcing a new Republican-backed ban on hormone replacement therapy for transgender people under age 18, after a federal appeals court allowed a similar law in Alabama to go back into effect.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Geraghty in Atlanta two weeks ago blocked enforcement of the Georgia law after concluding that a group of parents and transgender minors would likely succeed in establishing it violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection under the law.
But a day after Geraghty ruled, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 21 reversed a lower-court ruling that had blocked enforcement of a similar Alabama law banning the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones to treat gender dysphoria in transgender minors.
The appeals court panel was entirely comprised of judges appointed by Republican presidents. The 11th Circuit hears appeals from Georgia as well, and after it ruled, the state’s Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, urged Geraghty to vacate her injunction.
Geraghty, an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, on Tuesday instead put it on hold, saying it “rests on legal grounds that have been squarely rejected by the panel” in the Alabama case, but that further appeals in that matter were underway.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision and will continue fighting to protect the health and well-being of Georgia’s children,” Kara Richardson, Carr’s spokesperson, said in a statement.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
Republican lawmakers in several states have passed laws restricting medical treatments for transgender minors. Many have been blocked in court challenges, with judges finding they discriminate by sex and interfere with parents’ right to direct their children’s treatment.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, in March signed the state’s law that bans certain medical procedures and therapies for minors who experience gender dysphoria, the term for psychological distress that some individuals experience because of a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.
The law also prevents minors from receiving gender-affirming surgeries, though that provision was not at issue in the case before Geraghty.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Leslie Adler)