Yesterday Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law HB1/SB1, a bill that prohibits transgender-related healthcare in Tennessee for people under the age of 18. The bill is set to take effect on July 1, although legal groups including the ACLU of Tennessee have announced intentions to challenge the law in court. Young people who have begun accessing gender-affirming hormone therapy or puberty blockers prior to July 1 will be able to access care until March 31, 2024, at which time this care will no longer be available in Tennessee.
Earlier this week the Governor of Mississippi signed similar legislation, and other bills like this have passed this year in Utah and South Dakota.
Advocates are taking action to support the transgender community in Tennessee:
- Campaign for Southern Equality and Inclusion Tennessee have prepared a resource guide talking people through steps for how to prepare for the bill’s passage. Click here to view the resource guide.
- Emergency grants are available from the Campaign for Southern Equality and Inclusion Tennessee. Impacted families of trans youth can request information about the $250 emergency grants by clicking here (www.southernequality.org/TNResources) or sending a message to TennesseeResources@southernequality.org.
- Inclusion TN, OUT Memphis, and Campaign for Southern Equality, will host a Trans Wellness Workshop on Tuesday, March 6 to share strategies for healing and resilience during this traumatic time. Learn more and RSVP here.
Ivy Hill (they/them pronouns), Director of Gender Justice for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said:
“The passage of this law cutting off trans young people’s access to life-saving care is devastating – but it won’t stop our community from holding and supporting each other. Advocates now are working to provide a holistic support and response for transgender youth: Legal partners are preparing to challenge the law, community groups are supporting trans folks with strategies for healing and resilience, and we’re honored to be connecting families with funding, information, and provider referrals to preserve continuity of care for as many people as we can. No law can stop the transgender community from charting our paths to thriving and living authentically.”
Phil Cobucci (he/they pronouns), Founder of Inclusion Tennessee, said:
“These bills are aggressive attacks on best-practice medical care and free speech, and Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to sign them amount to state-sponsored violence. The government has no place inserting itself into the private medical decisions that should be made by doctors, patients, and their families alone – and the restrictions on drag could easily be wielded as a weapon against artists and the trans community more broadly. We will never stop working to support transgender Tennesseans and are sending our love, support, and strength far and wide.”
Molly Rose Quinn (she/her pronouns), Executive Director of OUT Memphis, said today:
“While we were guaranteed to see these bills signed, it is no less devastating to see these harmful, targeted, and ultimately safety-threatening laws in place after being rushed through by state lawmakers. To our community, beloved young people, courageous drag performers, and all those who deserve to explore gender diversity with safety and support, know that we are with you and will be unfailingly pursuing solutions to this political moment and future. We will never stop fighting for you. We will be here, no matter what.”
Jenna Dunn (she/her pronouns), Trans Services Specialist for OUT Memphis, said:
“To the youth of Tennessee and to the parents that support them, I want you to always remember that no matter what happens in life you are amazing, you are beautiful, worthy of joy, happiness, and respect. Do not ever allow anyone to tear you down mentally or physically, always demand respect and don’t accept anything less. The world is cruel but you are stronger, you can overcome anything just don’t ever give up or quit, remember there is always a rainbow after the storm.”
In January 2023 the Campaign for Southern Equality and Campus Pride released LGBTQ+ Tennesseans, which focuses on the life, school, and health experiences of LGBTQ people in Tennessee. The report relies on data from the 2021 Survey of Southern LGBTQ Experiences, a survey of 4,186 LGBTQ people who live in the South – including 381 from Tennessee. The survey oversamples people in the 18-24 age range.
The research found that approximately 84% of transgender respondents from Tennessee reported that, when they were under the age of 18, having access to gender-affirming care was important to their overall well-being. Yet, among respondents who reported currently using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), only 18% reported using HRT prior to the age of 18, and only 5% reported using hormone blockers prior to the age of 18. Tennessee should be working to make this life-saving care more available to youth who need it, rather than banning it. Click here to read the full report.