Tennessee Governor Signs New Bills Banning Gender-Affirming Care, Drag Shows Aimed at Children

A violation of this law would be a misdemeanor, although repeated violations could result in a felony charge.  File photo: Rarrarorro, Shutter Stock, licensed.

NASHVILLE, TN – Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed two pieces of legislation into law on Thursday, banning children from receiving gender-affirming care – including surgical procedures and hormones – as well as outlawing sexually explicit drag queen shows that are aimed at minors. 

The first bill – which overwhelmingly passed in the GOP-controlled State House on a vote of 77-16 – prevents children who believe that they are transgender from receiving sex change medical procedures such as mastectomies, in addition to medicinal treatments including cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers. 

Lee had previously expressed support for these bills after a report was released that revealed that the state’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has performed double mastectomies on minors. 

“We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children. With the partnership of the General Assembly, this practice should end in Tennessee,” Lee said at the time; a subsequent investigation by Republican lawmakers resulted in VUMC “pausing” mastectomies on minors in October 2022. 

A second bill that Lee signed into law bans “sexually explicit” shows put on by adults “impersonating the opposite sex in public or near where children could see it.” 

“The bill defines an ‘adult cabaret performance’ to mean a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration,” the bill’s summary said. 

A violation of this law would be a misdemeanor, although repeated violations could result in a felony charge. 

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