If signed by Gov. Lee, anti-transgender bill would take effect on July 1; organizations offer resources for families and young people.
Yesterday the Tennessee House voted to pass HB1, a bill that prohibits transgender-related healthcare in Tennessee for people under the age of 18. A similar version has already passed the Senate, and so the bill soon heads to the desk of Governor Bill Lee. If he signs, the bill will take effect on July 1. 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.
The passage comes on the heels of a similar bill reaching the governor’s desk in Mississippi. Earlier this year similar legislation passed in Utah and South Dakota.
Advocates have presented next steps for the LGBTQ+ community of Tennessee:
- Impacted youth and families last week joined a webinar with the ACLU of Tennessee, Inclusion TN, and Campaign for Southern Equality where advocates shared insight on the law, steps for how to prepare for the bill’s passage, and resources for healing and resilience during this traumatic time. A resource guide is available here.
- 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.
- Advocates are urging Governor Lee to veto HB1/SB1.
- Inclusion TN and Campaign for Southern Equality, alongside TN partners, will soon announce a healing & resilience workshop for trans Tennesseans.
Phil Cobucci (he/they pronouns), Founder of Inclusion Tennessee, said:
“Since 2015, Tennessee has filed and passed the most bills nationwide attacking and diminishing the LGBTQ+ community. These unconstitutional bills have attempted to harm LGBTQ+ people in every area of life, from family formation to school policy to fundamental healthcare. We reject these shameful attacks and know that it’s vital for the LGBTQ+ and allied community in Tennessee to unite, support each other, and create spaces for ourselves that are affirming, welcoming, and hopeful for transgender and queer young people.”
Ivy Hill (they/them pronouns), Director of Gender Justice for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said:
“My heart is breaking for transgender youth all across the country and throughout the South as these dangerous restrictions on basic healthcare hurtle toward passage. We’ve known for years that it’s never been easy to access gender-affirming care in states like Tennessee and the passage of this bill will only make it harder. But the trans and queer community across the South will do what we’ve always done: Come together, support each other, and chart new systems that help people live authentic, thriving lives where they know they are loved and supported.”
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.
Emma Chinn (she/her pronouns) is the co-author of LGBTQ+ Tennesseans, the Special Projects Coordinator at the Campaign for Southern Equality, and a Master of Public Policy Candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She said today:
“We know from the research that access to transgender-related healthcare is critical to the physical and mental health of transgender people and their ability to thrive in their daily lives. As a Tennessean, I feel furious that my state is taking steps to make life more challenging for transgender young people. I am more committed than ever to finding ways to support families and center the powerful voices of young people in the months ahead.”