Tennessee’s General Assembly is actively working to change the laws so that they do not protect LGBTQ people, which could destroy LGBTQ people’s sense of safety and community.
They seek to enforce harmful beliefs on Tennesseans by controlling what happens in the public, at Pride events, in schools, and even with our doctors. Through increasing government control over decision-making about people’s bodies, they limit individual freedom to make essential health care decisions.
They want to roll back the rights of LGBTQ people and the legal gains the community has made with marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQ, and particularly trans, individuals.
Click on the bill number for the latest status of each bill.
Youth Healthcare Ban – SB 1/HB 1
Multiple studies have shown (and all major medical associations agree) that gender-affirming and supportive health care saves trans young people’s lives. Yet, conservative media magnate Matt Walsh pushed out false and misleading reports about Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s transgender health clinic that led to this legislation being filed by State Senate and House leaders.
What would this bill do?
- This bill seeks to ban all gender-affirming healthcare for youth, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy (HT) and “top surgery” (breast augmentation and masculinizing chest constructive surgery). While also seeking to mandate malpractice by tying the hands of physicians and providers by threatening serious monetary and professional sanctions for treating trans youth according to medical standards.
- This bill also allows for surgery and treatment on intersex children (which is often harmful).
- If medical treatment began before this act goes into effect, the treatment must be discontinued on or before March 31, 2024. This means that any trans minor currently receiving medical treatment would be forced to detransition.
- Bans certain treatments for trans youth only, while the same treatment remains available to non-trans/cis youth.
- A minor and/or parent can bring suit against a provider up to 10 years after the minor reaches 18 years – unprecedented statute of limitations (SOL).
- Gives the Attorney General permission to act as the gender police and sue a healthcare provider up to 20 years after a “violation.”
- Licensing boards must revoke doctors’ licenses or bring equivalent disciplinary action against providers who are “alleged” to have violated statute.
Blocking TennCare funds for gender-affirming care – SB 1339/HB 1215
- Prohibits any managed care organization (MCO) that contracts with the bureau of TennCare to provide medical assistance from providing reimbursement or coverage for gender-affirming care for all people, not just people under 18.
- Prohibits private insurance companies who do cover gender-affirming care, regardless of where in the country they do it, from contracting with the bureau of TennCare and becoming an MCO.
Codifying the Definition of “sex” – SB 1440/HB 239
- Defines sex as “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth and evidence of a person’s biological sex.”
- Defines ‘evidence of a person’s biological sex’ as “includ[ing], but not limited to, a government-issued identification document that accurately reflects a person’s sex listed on the person’s original birth certificate.
TAKE ACTION: This bill makes LGBTQ people even more susceptible to discrimination. Tell your legislators to vote NO and oppose SB 1440/HB 239.
Attempts to Target Drag
- Would prohibit entertainers from performing anywhere on public property or at private functions where their performance may be viewed by a minor, if the performance is “harmful to minors.”
- First-time offenders would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by jail time of up to a year and a fine of $2,500.
- Repeat offenders would be charged with a Class E felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 6 years and fines up to $3,000.
- The legal definition for “harmful to minors” is very narrow and drag shows do not inherently fall into this category. However, some Tennessee politicians have expressed their intent to ban all drag shows and government officials could easily abuse this legislation to censor performers based on their own subjective viewpoints of what they deem appropriate on any given day. Indeed, this legislation is already being misapplied to ban protected speech that is not harmful to minors, before it has even been signed into law.
- Would require drag performers to register and obtain a permit as adult-oriented performers (even for a single performance) if they work in a commercial establishment where the “principal use of its business” features “go-go dancers, exotic dancers, topless dancers, male or female impersonators, or similar entertainers…”
- Drag performers would be subject to licensing fees and fines as well as criminal charges for violations.
- First offense would be a Class B misdemeanor.
- Subsequent violations will be Class A misdemeanors (for each hour of violation) (11 mos. 29 days jail and fines up to $2,500).
- Allows an employee of a public K-12 school to purposefully misgender a trans student
- Prevents any employment repercussions
- Grants teachers civil immunity
- Requires private schools to ban trans athletes from competing in sports by not allowing them to compete in TSSAA or other interscholastic athletics unless they do so.
How to advocate at the local level?
- Attend local board meetings when anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans issues come up.
- Email or meet with board members to talk about trans issues.
- Organize or join local groups that advocate for trans justice.
- Start or join an LGBTQ+ support group in your school, workplace, or community.