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Tennessee just passed two sinister, hateful laws putting health and safety of trans people at risk

Maggie Baska May 4, 2021
Tennessee governor Bill Lee

Tennessee governor Bill Lee speaks on protecting America's seniors from the COVID-19 pandemic in the White House in Washington, DC on 30 April 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Tennessee lawmakers have voted to enact two anti-trans bills – one banning gender-affirming care for trans minors and another requiring businesses to post signs saying trans people use their bathrooms.

HB 1182, which was introduced back in February, cleared the state Senate on Thursday (29 April) in a 21-4 vote, according to The Hill. The bill was approved by the House in March by a 62-25 vote.

The legislation requires any “public or private entity or business that operates a building or facility open to the general public” and allows a “member of either biological sex to use any public restroom within the building or facility” to “post notice of the policy at the entrance of each public restroom in the building or facility”.

The sign included in the bill must read: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

The legislation would also apply to any locker room, shower facility, dressing area or any other facility or area that is open to the general public. This includes a unisex, single-occupant or family restroom.

The bill now sits on Republican governor Bill Lee’s desk to be vetoed or signed into law.

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said the “discriminatory” bill is “crafted to generate the maximum amount of harm to Tennessee’s transgender community”. He called on governor Lee to veto the bill, and the state legislature to “shift their priorities to find solutions to legitimate challenges affecting Tennesseans”.

“Denying transgender people the ability to access a bathroom consistent with their gender identity is degrading and dehumanising, and by advancing this bill, the Tennessee state legislature is putting the health and safety of transgender Tennesseans at risk,” David said. “These ‘Slate of Hate’ bills are nothing more than a politically motivated attack on the LGBTQ community, especially transgender people.”

The ACLU of Tennessee told Associated Press that it is “evaluating our legal options” on the bathroom sign requirement – which, if signed into law, would go into effect in July.

Tennessee lawmakers also advanced a bill that seeks to ban gender affirming medical treatment and care for trans minors. The anti-trans medical care ban, HB 1027 (SB 126), was scheduled for a final House floor vote on Monday (3 May), and the HRC reported the bill passed. It is now headed to governor Lee’s desk for signature.

According to the Tennessee legislature website, the legislation was passed 67-24.

The bill would prevent medical practitioners from prescribing puberty blockers or hormone treatment for trans youth before they enter puberty. The legislation would allow the prescription of “hormone treatments for prepubertal minors” if they have a diagnosis of “growth deficiencies” or “other diagnoses unrelated to gender dysphoria or gender incongruency”.

The ACLU of Tennessee said current medical care for trans youth “simply delays puberty to give a young person and the person’s family more time to make informed medical care”. But HB 1027 would “take away their choices, irreversibly force youth through endogenous puberty and undermine the prevailing recommendations of every major medical association”.

In March, Arkansas became the first US state to move forward legislation to ban medical professionals from providing gender-affirming healthcare to trans minors, and other states have bills pending which would do the same. A Texas bill would define the parents of trans kids who consent to their gender-affirming treatments as “child abuses” as well as doctors who provide the medical treatments.

A similar bill is being considered in Alabama.

More: Tennessee, trans healthcare, trans kids, transphobia

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