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Tennessee becomes second state to cruelly ban healthcare for trans kids

Lily Wakefield May 20, 2021
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Tennessee governor Bill Lee

Tennessee governor Bill Lee has "made Tennessee a pioneer in anti-transgender discrimination". (AFP via Getty/ MANDEL NGAN)

Tennessee governor Bill Lee has signed into law a cruel ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids who desperately need it.

Tennessee is the second state to create such a law, after Arkansas banned medical professionals from offering lifesaving puberty blockers and hormone treatments to trans and non-binary minors last month.

The healthcare ban in Tennessee differs slightly from Arkansas’s, in that is bans affirming healthcare for prepubescent trans kids, rather than all trans minors.

The law prevents medical practitioners from prescribing puberty blockers or hormone treatment for trans youth before they enter puberty. The legislation only allows 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”.

Lee is in his first term as Tennessee governor, but has used his time to relentlessly attack trans folk.

In March this year, he signed into last a ban trans girls from playing middle and high school sports as their correct gender, and earlier this month he signed a bill which bans trans students from accessing bathrooms which align with their gender in public schools

Tennessee is also considering many more horrific anti-trans and anti-LGBT+ bills, including requiring businesses to post signs disclosing that trans people use their bathrooms, allowing parents to remove their children from LGBT-inclusive education, and allowing adoption providers to discriminate against LGBT+ people.

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a statement: “If lawmakers really care about the best interests of trans youth, they would focus on improving access to quality healthcare instead of playing doctor themselves.

“Patients, parents and health care providers should be guided by science and medical best practices rather when seeking treatments, not the whims of the state legislators.

“Governor Lee has made Tennessee a pioneer in anti-transgender discrimination… Unfortunately his decision to sign SB126 (HB1027) therefore comes as no surprise.

“He and his anti-equality colleagues are advancing policy based on fear, not science and they will ultimately lose this fight.”

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