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State Senate committee advances bill to ban puberty blockers for minors

Library of Congress

A state senate committee has advanced legislation that would limit the use of puberty-blockers among Georgia youth.

House Bill 1170 was sponsored by Representative Lee Hawkins, a Republican from Gainesville. The bill, if passed, will require certain government buildings to be equipped with opioid antagonists.

On Monday, Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, introduced a substitute to House Bill 1170. The added language seeks to prohibit the prescription of puberty blocking medication for transgender children. Senator Watson:

“What the data is showing is that puberty blockers are being used--really almost exclusively when they are used, they do go on to a sex change operation or sex change hormones. If they are not used, the data is showing that 50% are electing not to pursue that. That’s why, upon reflection, I thought this was appropriate to make it so that minors would not be using puberty blockers.”

The substitute provoked lively debate, with several supporters of the bill stepping forward. Chloe Cole is a resident of California and identified herself before the committee as a detransitioner. She said that banning puberty-delaying medication was a matter of protecting children.

“Puberty is the only process through which a child can grow into an adult. And no adult has any right to decide whether a child should have their hormones drained from their body when they should be developing. This practice is abusive,” she declared.

Senator Kim Jackson (D-Stone Mountain) spoke in opposition to the bill, stating that puberty-blockers allow for a pause in the gender transitioning process.

“We wanted them to be able to take a pause while they were sorting through what the appropriate next steps might be when it comes to their gender dysphoria. So if we were to remove the ability to take puberty blockers, what happens to that pause?”

The Committee also heard from Quentin Van Meter, an endocrinologist in the Atlanta area. He claimed that rather than allowing for a pause in the process of transitioning one’s gender, puberty-blockers often fast track a full gender transition.

“It is not used as a time for a decision, it is used as a fast track to the cross sex hormones and if they choose thereafter to go to surgery.”

He also agreed with Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah) that puberty-blocking drugs have lasting health effects on those who take them.

His testimony was challenged, however, by Senator Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat, who called into question his credentials as former president of the American College of Pediatricians.

“You know that that group has been designated as a hate group that opposes adoption by LGBTQ couples, links homosexuality to pedophilia, endorses sexual orientation conversion therapy for homosexual youth, believes transgender people have a mental illness, and has called transgender healthcare for children child abuse?” she asked

Non-medical advocates for the bill also stepped forward. Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

“We believe this is a public health and safety issue. We have the same types of regulation, whether it’s smoking or tattoos or drinking or firearms or dealing with being involved in sexuality, those types of things, we already have that because we recognize minors need to be protected,” he stated.

Several Democrats objected to the one-sided quality of the day’s testimony. At one point, Senator Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) suggested the substitute be tabled.

“I would like to make a motion to table, because this was a sub and none of us were expecting this particular bill, especially the part we’ve been talking about with the puberty blockers. The only people we heard from today are the people who clearly knew that the sub was coming and support and we have not been able to hear testimony from anybody who would represent the opposing viewpoint,” she said

While the motion to table failed, Senator Orrock doubled down on her previous assertions:

“We have not heard from the medical community of Georgia. We have not heard from the medical professionals that are skilled in this area. We have heard from a doctor from an organization that is classified as a hate group.”

The bill was passed out of committee, 8 to 5.