Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a
Republican, on Thursday signed into law two bills targeting the LGBTQ
One bill bans gender-affirming health
care for transgender children, while the second restricts drag shows.
Doctors in the state can no longer
prescribe puberty blockers or hormone treatments to minors who
identify as transgender or nonbinary. Surgeries are also banned, but
such procedures are rarely used on children.
The health law was fast-tracked by
Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the legislature. The law
takes effect over the summer.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) announced it will challenge the bill in court.
Tennessee's first-in-the-nation drag
bill, Senate Bill 3, prohibits drag performances from public venues
where children might be present. The law takes effect on April 1.
Tennessee Representative Chris Todd, a
Republican and one of the bill's sponsors, called his legislation “a
common-sense, child safety bill.”
Democrats argued that state law already
protects minors from “obscene” material.
The ACLU of Tennessee said that they
were concerned “that government officials could easily abuse this
law to censor people based on their own subjective viewpoints of what
they deem appropriate, chilling protected free speech and sending a
message to LGBTQ Tennesseans that they are not welcome in our state.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC), the nation's largest LGBTQ rights advocate, Tennessee leads
the nation in anti-LGBTQ laws.
“Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted
more anti-LGBTQ+ laws than any other state in the country – these
two bills bring the total to 14,” HRC said. “Tennessee's attack
on LGBTQ+ people has been unrelenting and has made Tennessee an
increasingly difficult place for LGBTQ+ people to survive, let alone