A West Cobb lawmaker will introduce a bill that makes it a felony to give testosterone or estrogen treatments to transgender minors.
State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart announced her sponsorship of the bill on Wednesday. She’s calling it the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act.”
“This legislation would make it a felony to perform radical surgery on, or administer drugs to, a minor child for the purpose of attempting to change their gender,” according to a press release.
Ehrhart (top photo) called this a “form of child abuse” that is “evolving into a national crisis.”
“We are talking about children who have not reached the legal age of consent, and yet are being subjected to life-altering, irreversible surgeries and drug treatments that render them sterile and permanently disfigured,” she said in the press release. “The psychological damage this does to innocent children must come to an end.”
LGBTQ activists and lawmakers immediately hit back at Ehrhart’s announcement. Ehrhart is making several false claims, according to Chanel Haley, gender inclusion manager for Georgia Equality.
“What she wrote is actually wrong,” Haley told Project Q Atlanta. “There aren’t any doctors that are doing any sort of surgeries on any children around gender identity at all. That’s just not a standard that doctors do. It’s also not true that these testosterone blockers cause infertility.”
“And if you’re so concerned with LGBTQ children’s well-being, then maybe you should keep them from being placed in foster care situations that are abusive,” she added. “LGBTQ kids are being denied homes or told to change their behaviors or identities in order to be placed.”
Ehrhart claimed that the bill “is not an attempt to infringe on the rights of adults to make lifestyle choices for themselves.”
“This is about children who are being abused by adults,” she said. “The sterilization and castration of children has no place in a civilized society.”
State Rep. Matthew Wilson (second photo), one of five openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the state legislature, said Ehrhart is “using fear-based tropes and misinformation to score cheap political points.”
“It's shameful and discriminatory,” he told Project Q. “Being trans, or gay, or bisexual, is not a ‘lifestyle choice,’ it's how God made us,” he added.
'Where did this come from?'
An Atlanta-based pediatrician supported Ehrhart’s bill.
“This bill is of the utmost importance because it will put a stop to the process of trying to convert a child’s physical appearance to that of the opposite sex, resulting in irreversible, medically harmful changes,” Dr. Quentin Van Meter said in a press release. “There is no valid scientific long-term evidence that this is either safe or effective, while there is ample evidence that it is harmful.”
Van Meter, of Van Meter Pediatric Endocrinology, called such treatments “medical experimentation based on wishful social theory.”
“These children are suffering from a psychological condition without biologic basis,” he said. “Using the bludgeon of threatened suicide as justification is first of all cruel, and secondly, not supported by valid published studies.”
Van Meter is being “very irresponsible,” according to Haley.
“Where did this come from?” she said of Ehrhart’s bill.
Ehrhart compared transgender people to moose during her campaign last year. Her opponent at the time, LGBTQ ally Jen Slipakoff, has a trans daughter. Ehrhart won the election after her husband, Earl Ehrhart, retired from the legislature after becoming its most outspoken anti-LGBTQ member.
Ginny Ehrhart vowed to revive a push for anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” legislation in the 2019 session, but no such bills passed.
She also spoke out against a bill that would ban conversion therapy for minors during a hearing at the state Capitol in March. Ehrhart objected to transgender children being included in the bill.
“My concern is if there is anything here that may be getting in the way of parents of children who have gender dysphoria from seeking appropriate treatment for those children,” she said during the hearing. “It’s not like sexual orientation. Very different.”
The 2020 legislative session begins in January.