As Georgia state senators consider a final reconciliation bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors in the state, the pleas of one state representative to defeat the legislation still echo through the halls of the Georgia state capital in Atlanta.
On Thursday, Rep. Park Cannon (D), who is queer, stood up against S.B. 140 during the debate in the state house with a dramatic demonstration of how banning drugs that are essential to trans healthcare will impact kids and their families.
“What’s going to be the impact of this bill?” Cannon asked her colleagues. “I want to show you.”
Cannon raised two hands, holding a plastic-wrapped package in one and a box in the other.
“Do you know what this is? These are black-market drugs for gender-affirming care. This is what parents will have to start giving their children.”
They’ll have to “travel state lines, go on the black market, order and get it in black bags,” she explained, her voice defiant.
Cannon opened the packages to reveal a glass vial and a syringe.
“You have to break this. It is glass. It can be contaminated easily. You then have to inject with this,” she said, waving the syringe.
Then Cannon held up a small, clearly labeled box.
“This is what we should be giving our students, our kids that need the support,” she said emphatically.
“This is given by a provider, a supportive provider. It has a prescription. It has information about what it does.”
Comparing the black market knock-off to the real thing, Cannon added, “Not this.”
The 31-year-old lawmaker reminded her colleagues, “We don’t even have a single transgender elected official in the state house or senate, and yet we’re setting policy. In the senate, we have someone who has a transgender child, and we did not listen to her on this bill.”
“I am begging you today,” Cannon pleaded. “Please consider voting no.”
Cannon’s request fell on mostly deaf ears. The bill passed the Georgia House, 95-75, with nearly all Republicans voting to advance the measure. S.B. 140 is now being considered in the state senate, where it’s expected to pass.
The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Josh Bonner and 23 Georgia Senate Republicans, would ban “sex reassignment surgeries or any other surgical procedures and hormone replacement therapies that are performed on anyone younger than age 18 for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics.”
“As legislators we’re charged with protecting the vulnerable population in the state,” Bonner said ahead of the House vote. “Senate Bill 140 does just that, by establishing guardrails to ensure that children struggling with identity issues are not rushing into decisions that would alter their bodies forever.”
Bonner also asserted that a rise in the number self-identified transgender minors was the result of social media, the internet and other forms of “exposure.”
Rep. Shelly Hutchison (D), a mental health professional, begged to differ, and said of trans kids: “The cases are going up because we are recognizing them, we are hearing them, we’re talking to them, and they know that we see them.”
“I know deeply the people who this bill will impact,” Cannon told state house members during the debate. “They’re the same people who have called and emailed you and have gotten no responses. It’s not right.”
In Alabama last year, lawmakers passed similar legislation, which is being challenged in the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama.
Issuing an injunction pending trial, the court predicted the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act is likely unconstitutional, writing, “Parents have a fundamental right to direct the medical care of their children subject to accepted medical standards; and discrimination based on gender-nonconformity equates to sex discrimination.”