Trans people belong everywhere. Learn more about common experiences trans Tennesseans have at school, in healthcare, with friends and family, and at the legislature, and how you can support trans people in these spaces.
Trans in Tennessee 101
Trans in Tennessee 101: Supporting Trans People
Across the state, trans students face many adversities that create extreme pressure and stress, and can also lead to adverse physical, emotional, and mental outcomes. Trans students in Tennessee face many challenges:
- 78% of students in Tennessee heard negative remarks about trans people in school by either peers or teachers
- Almost one third of all LGBTQ students drop out of high school, compared with a national average of about 8 percent of all students.
- LGBTQ students report that their main reason for dropping out of high school is constant bullying and harassment from other students.
- However, LGBTQ high school students express greater ambitions to pursue higher education than their peers. Over 90 percent of LGBTQ high school students plan to attend college and about 50 percent plan to earn a graduate degree; in contrast, only about 70 percent of high school students plan to go to college and about 33 percent expect to complete a graduate/professional degree.
- The general population has a 1.6% suicide attempt rate, but in 2015, 40% of trans people reported a suicide attempt. 92% of those people were under the age of 25, showing that educational spaces are a crucial setting in which to be affirming.
- Each episode of LGBT victimization increases the risk of self-harm by 2.5 x times.
- Over half of Tennessee trans students were prevented from using the correct name and pronoun in class.
With the dangers that trans young people face in their day-to-day life, allyship and activism for protection of trans youth has become crucial. We’ve compiled multiple resources for trans youth and their allies to create a safer school environment for all:
- Starting a Gay-Straight Alliance or inclusivity club. Students in Tennessee have the right to start a GSA or inclusivity club in their school.
- Know Your Rights! A Guide for Public School Students in Tennessee (EDIT)
- What’s Your Problem? A guide to help you navigate situations you may face in schools.
- Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Children in K-12 Schools
There are countless reasons to support trans people in pursuing affirming healthcare, especially when it comes to youth. According to Harvard Law Review:
- Physical & social transition through the use of gender-affirming healthcare is clinically shown to reduce dysphoria by aligning a trans person’s physical body & gender presentation with their gender identity.
- Every major U.S .medical association recognizes that gender-affirming healthcare is medically necessary treatment for dysphoria.
- There is a vast disparity in quality of life between trans youth with untreated dysphoria and their cisgender peers, and transition narrows this gap considerably.
- Trans adults who received puberty blockers in childhood had a significantly lower incidence of suicidality than those who wanted it but didn’t get it.
- 20% of trans youth had “moderate to extreme” depressive symptoms.
- Trans youth who received gender-affirming healthcare showed lower anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior, and psychological distress.
Gender-affirming care is life-giving for many trans folks – literally. Being able to access the care that they need, whether it be mental health care or physical interventions, is crucial to increasing the well-being and quality of life for trans and gender-nonconforming folks.
We can provide trans 101 lessons for medical providers who hope to support trans patients, but don’t necessarily have the tools to do it yet. Trans people participate in all aspects of healthcare – not only gender-affirming procedures, but standard medical practices as well. We believe that everyone should have the capacity to support trans patients in any and all medical fields, and think that not being affirmed in these fields can have grave consequences.
If you’re a medical provider seeking a training, please fill out the speaker request form to get in contact with us.
With Friends and Family
Attacks on trans young people are not limited to the state legislature or other public spaces. Misinformation about trans youth is spread at the dinner table, PTA meetings, and many other places. It takes all of us speaking out and speaking up to stop this.
- Tough Conversations with Peppermint: Your Guide to Talking About Attacks on Trans Youth. Learn more about common lies about transgender people and how you can respond to them.
- Being a Good Ally
At the Legislature
Tennessee is a national leader in introducing discriminatory anti-trans laws. Whether it be healthcare, education, sports, or employment, the Tennessee State Legislature mounts vicious attacks against trans people regularly. However, we’ve seen time and again that having trans voices be heard in our Capitol and talking with legislators can help change minds and hearts. Slowly but surely, we’re seeing a shift in how trans people are addressed and recognized in these spaces.
In Tennessee, each legislative session happens from around mid-January to April, depending on how many bills are proposed and how long each committee takes to work its way through proposed legislation. The legislature meets in the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville. Information about bills and legislators can be found at capitol.tn.gov.
Each general assembly lasts for two sessions over two years. However, they only formally meet to pass legislation for four months out of each year.
Staying in the loop
Each year during the legislative session, we post bills we are monitoring and lobbying, as well as actions you can take, in our Legislative Action Center.
We also send out information about pending bills you can take action on via email and social media:
Another great way to keep up with specific legislation is to use the “My Bills” feature on the state legislative website. This is a tracking system that lets you input certain bill numbers, and keeps you notified about any movement they make throughout the legislative session.
Even if you can’t show up in person to the Capitol, there are still many ways to get involved in the process and make a difference:
- Lobbying 101. ACLU-TN’s guide to lobbying legislators, as well as a breakdown of how bills become law.
- ACLU-TN’s Legislative Action Center. This webpage describes numerous bills we are monitoring and lobbying, as well as actions you can take on this legislation.
- Tips for Effective Communication. The Tennessee General Assembly’s guide for contacting legislators and communicating effectively with them.
The more people that speak out and engage on behalf of trans lives, the less excuses anti-trans legislators have to pass hateful legislation. While slow and incremental, change does happen, even in a state as unaffirming as Tennessee. Consistently staying involved is the best way to ensure sustained change.