Bill that would limit gender care for minors continues to move forward in Tennessee

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Posted at 8:57 PM, Feb 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-07 21:57:02-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Despite testimony asking lawmakers to vote no and leading to litigation, a bill preventing gender-affirming care for minors continued to move forward in the Tennessee legislature.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, testimony from the committee revealed how the bill would negatively affect transgender teens and potentially cause suicidality. The committee pushed forward the bill with a 7-2 vote, which falls on party lines. The bill started chatter last week in subcommittee, before going for a fuller slate of lawmakers.

Republicans are sponsoring a bill that would ban gender-affirming surgeries for children in Tennessee. Lawmakers made their way into the discourse of gender-affirming care and minors in September after a conservative blogger questioned whether Vanderbilt University Medical Center should provide gender-affirming care to patients. Matt Walsh — a Daily Wire conservative commentator, who questions the legitimacy of LGBTQ rights — said he considered the care to be that of castration and mutilation of minors and adults.

Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, asked the legislation move to summer study for further research, but that issue was met with only her and one other lawmaker supporting that.

"I never dreamed Tennessee would take away a lot of freedom and liberties that I enjoy," said Josephine Parker from Cannon County. "Like you and loved ones, I want minors to receive the best care possible. I found my way. But what I endured as a teenager, I wouldn't wish on any teenager. This bill is cruelty."

However, one voice spoke out against sentiments like this, saying when she was in her teens that transitioning genders was harmful to hear later in life.

"Now at 24, I have two huge scars where my breasts should be. I have no hips and large shoulders. I have suffered hair loss. I decided not to be a woman before I ever got to be one," Presha Mosley said.

Sen. Majority Leader Jack Johnson, who has spoken on the bill many times in the last two weeks of the legislative session, that the state has compelling interests to protect children in Tennessee. He said that once a child becomes an adult, that child can then make that decision to transition. A representative from the ACLU-Tennessee said the bill if passed would force litigation.

Sen. London Lamar, D-Memphis, said she was concerned about the suicidality of teens who couldn't transition until they turned 18. Johnson — not specifying studies or where they came from — said he thought more suicides happened as a result of transitioning and people no longer wishing they had.

The bill will move on to the next calendar date.

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