Tennessee Passes the Strongest Ban on Youth Transgender Surgeries in the Nation and Bans "Drag Queen" Events with Children Present
By Andy Sher, Chattanooga Times Free Press, February 23, 2023
NASHVILLE — On Thursday, The Tennessee House passed two bills dealing with transgender issues, sending one to the governor that would ban the medical community from providing transgender-affirming care to most children and teens.
A second bill passed by the House bars adult-oriented entertainment on public property. It also prohibits adult cabaret performances featuring exotic dancers, strippers and "male or female impersonators" appealing to "prurient interests" in private venues with children present.
The adult cabaret bill goes back to the Senate for expected concurrence on changes made by the House.
Gov. Bill Lee indicated to reporters prior to the transgender health care measure's passage he will sign it absent any problems in its language.
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"Like any piece of legislation, I will look at the details of it when it gets closer to my desk," the Republican governor told reporters Thursday. "But I'm grateful to the leadership in both houses who have worked to protect kids along those lines."
The transgender health care bill bars children and teens under age 18 in Tennessee from accessing transition treatments such as surgery, puberty blockers and hormone therapies, in addition to surgeries for gender dysphoria, a term used to describe anguish and other symptoms as a result of the disparity between someone's assigned sex and their gender identity.
Doctors could be penalized if they violate the law.
LGBTQ groups immediately attacked the health care bill, hinting they may sue.
"This attempt by radical politicians in Tennessee to ban gender-affirming care is only the latest effort in their war against the LGBTQ+ community, especially against transgender kids," Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a statement.
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During House debate, Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, who carried the gender-affirming care bill, said the legislation is necessary.
"These children do not need these medical procedures to be able to flourish as adults," he told the chamber. "They need mental health treatment. They need love and support, and many of them need to be able to grow up to become the individuals that they were intended to be."
Seventy-four Republicans voted for the bill as did three Democrats, among them Rep. Yusuf Hakeem of Chattanooga.
Hakeem said later by phone he was torn over the legislation, noting that arguments made by the bill's House sponsor, Lamberth, made him think about younger men who at ages 20 and 21 have vasectomies that can't be reversed.
"In my own way, I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place," Hakeem said, adding he was concerned about erring on the "wrong side," and worrying about decisions made when someone is 13 or 14 years old.
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The bill would take effect July 1. It gives current patients until March 31, 2024, to stop treatment, which Democrats argue could medically harm the patients.
The issue over pediatric transgender surgery and puberty blockers blew up last year after conservative political commentator Matt Walsh, a Nashville transplant who writes for the Daily Wire, called attention to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where the procedure is performed.
Medical Center officials stated procedures were for minors ages 16 and 17 and required consent from parents or a guardian. They said the center has provided five gender-affirming surgeries to minors every year since its transgender clinic opened in 2018. None received genital procedures. The Medical Center later announced it was suspending the program as officials reviewed practices.
Drag show controversies erupted in various areas of the state last year, including Chattanooga after a video taken at a youth-oriented LGBTQ event at WanderLinger Brewing Co., part of a weeklong LGTBQ celebration organized by Chattanooga Pride.
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A Massive Win In Tennessee
By Matt Walsh, DailyWire.com, February 23, 2023
On Thursday, lawmakers in the state of Tennessee did what all sane lawmakers across the country should do immediately: they voted to protect children from the indefensible, predatory and increasingly lucrative pediatric transgender medical industry. As those who've been following our show know quite well by now, Tennessee's Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act was introduced in direct response to our exposure of the ghoulish practices conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center's pediatric gender clinic. The bill effectively bars doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and from performing gender-related surgeries on minors for the purpose of medical transition - and, importantly, it allows patients and their family members to sue doctors for damages.
Following the VUMC investigation, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee aptly expressed what the vast majority of Tennesseans believe: “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain. We have to protect Tennessee children.” He has already said he intends to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
And Tennessee's Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson bluntly summed up the reason he believed it was an urgent necessity to pass the bill: “Under no circumstances should minors be allowed to undergo irreversible elective procedures to mutilate body parts and intentionally harm their reproductive systems. This practice comes with lifelong health complications that children are not capable of understanding.” That's what sanity sounds like.
On Thursday, the work of these sane lawmakers, spurred on by your voices, moved this important protection for children and families forward in Tennessee. Good on them and good on you for helping this literally life and death issue get the attention it desperately needs.