Tennessee passes anti-trans bill to ‘intimidate families of transgender youth’

Lawmakers in Tennessee have passed a new anti-trans bill which “intimidates families of transgender youth”, LGBTQ+ organisations in the state have said.

The bill, which is a first of its kind, prohibits adults from kidnapping children and taking them to other states to obtain gender-affirming care. The bill, S.B. 2782, was passed by the Tennessee House of Representatives on 25 April.

The legislation appears to be in response to an anti-trans agenda conspiracy theory that trans adults are trying to kidnap children and “turn” them trans. In reality, it seems to be another attack on the LGBTQ+ community from the state which recently allowed officials to refuse to “solemnize” a marriage without any reason.

The anti-trans bill, which is now going to the governor’s desk, amends a 2023 ban on gender-affirming care, adding civil penalties for any adult who aids in an unemancipated minor getting out-of-state gender-affirming care without their parent’s consent.

The bill does contain exemptions for parents, guardians, those with the consent of parents and guardians, and transport personnel like bus drivers, airline pilots, and ride-share app drivers.

The bill was passed 63-16 in the Tennessee House of Representatives and previously passed the Senate 25-4. An earlier version of the bill was reported to have criminal penalties for adults, but this was removed in committee.

LGBTQ+ charity leaders are now reiterating to parents of trans and non-binary youth that the law doesn’t prohibit parents from taking their children out of state for such gender-affirming care. Many LGBTQ+ parents have been forced to travel out of state for such services since the state passed a ban on gender-affirming care.

Molly Quinn, executive director of OUTMemphis said in a statement: “OUTMemphis has provided navigation assistance for families seeking gender-affirming care for youth since the ban on care for minors passed last year.

“Above all, we want these families to know help is available and that you don’t have to fear leaving the state to get your child the care that they need.”

OUTMemphis and Campaign for Southern Equality also released a joint statement, noting that families of trans and non-binary children can still be seen by gender-affirming care clinics legally out-of-state.

“It’s obvious that the Tennessee legislature is trying to intimidate families of transgender youth – piling additional fear onto the mountain of financial and logistical burdens that parents are grappling with in the face of the existing healthcare ban in Tennessee,” Adam Polaski, communications and political director of the Campaign for Southern Equality said.

“But we want to be clear: This development does not block parents from travelling with their child out of state to access the healthcare they need and deserve.”

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