During this year’s legislative session, it has seemed at times that Republican-led states have been competing in a contest to prove which state hates trans kids the most. They’ve introduced bill after bill to ban trans kids, and especially trans girls, from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity, as well as bills to criminalize gender-affirming care. And now, Tennessee is leading the way in cruelty and in codifying bigotry and discrimination.
Not only has Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that would force trans kids to play on teams that don’t match their gender identity, in recent weeks he’s decided to sign two more bills that will make the lives of trans kids in his state even more miserable.
Remember the wave of bathroom bills introduced in 2016? They’re back in a new form, at least in Tennessee! Last week, Lee signed a bathroom bill targeting trans students and their schools, which, as the Associated Press noted, “puts public schools and their districts at risk of losing civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that do not reflect their sex assigned at birth.”
More, via the AP:
Under the bathroom measure, a student, parent or employee could sue in an effort to claim monetary damages “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if school officials allow a transgender person into the bathroom or locker room when others are in there. They also could take legal action if required to stay in the same sleeping quarters as a member of the opposite sex at birth, unless that person is a family member.
The proposal says schools must try to offer a bathroom or changing facility that is single-occupancy or that is for employees if a student or employee “desires greater privacy when using a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility” designated for their sex at birth.
But Lee and Republicans in the legislature didn’t stop there. Earlier this week, Lee also signed into law a bill that included an amendment to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth. It bans doctors from providing hormone treatment to trans young people before they enter puberty—which, as anyone who knows anything about gender-affirming care is well aware of, is not a thing that happens. The bill doesn’t ban treatment for kids once they enter puberty, but it still sends a terrible message to trans kids. That this bill tackles something that does not even exist just underscores the intent—which is to harass and intimidate trans kids, their families, and their doctors from even seeking gender-affirming care in the first place.
As Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told the Advocate, “We still opposed the bill because it is a form of discrimination.” Sanders added, “We don’t normally codify health care protocols. The legislature chose not to trust trans youth, their families, and their health care providers and put this law in place. We are also worried that it allows the legislature to add more restrictive amendments in the future.”
The AP noted that “only Texas has filed more anti-LGBTQ proposals this year than Tennessee.” Congratulations to bigots in Tennessee for deciding that their top legislative priority this year was to attack trans kids.