At 5 p.m. Monday, the East Tennessee Equality Council, Knox Pride, OUTReach, ChangeTN, and Indivisible TN assembled in Krutch Park to oppose an anti-trans senate bill. SB1 was introduced in the House by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, and would prevent healthcare practitioners from performing gender-confirming procedures on adolescents, even with parental consent. These methods might range from gender confirmation surgery to the use of prescribed medicines. Six senators voted against the bill on Monday.
According to Knox Pride, the objective of the protest was to educate people about the trans community. Furthermore, Knox Pride officials led attendees through the process of contacting their legislators to express their views on the bill.
“While these measures were in committee, we engaged citizens to phone committee member’s offices, many of these offices would say they only can help persons in their area, despite committees covering the entire state. We held them accountable despite their efforts to disregard calls. However, as we have continued to be ignored and exposed to gaslighting, the next step was to return to the foundations of the LGBTQIA+ movement, which means we take to the streets,” stated J. Nathan Higdon, CFO of Knox Pride. Enough already. The rally will be informative, followed by a call to action to put further pressure on Nashville.”
The bill has a number of legal implications. It would be:
- Allow the patient or the patient’s parents to sue if they are hurt during the treatment; Allow a child to bring a civil cause of action against a parent who consented to the procedure;
- Allow courts to levy a $25,000 fine each infringement.
- Require the Tennessee Attorney General to establish a system for reporting infractions.
- Allow the state attorney general to file a lawsuit against a healthcare provider who conducted the treatment within the last 20 years.
- Lamberth stated in a news release that messing with reproductive organs is immoral.
“Interfering with or damaging a child’s healthy, normal reproductive organs to modify their appearance is highly unethical and morally unacceptable,” Lamberth added. “By passing [this law], Tennessee will protect vulnerable children who are unable to provide informed consent for adult decisions they are not prepared to make.”
Johnson went on to say that the bill was intended to protect children.
“Under no circumstances should kids be allowed to endure irreversible elective surgeries that mutilate body parts and purposely impair their reproductive systems,” Johnson said in a statement. “This practice has long-term health consequences that children are incapable of comprehending.”
For years, the morality and ethics of gender confirmation treatment have been a contentious subject in Tennessee. Recently, state politicians have spoken out against drag shows, claiming that they are improper for children who might attend.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, on the other hand, issued remarks in favour of gender-affirming care for children, claiming that when children are supported, they grow up healthier.
“We know that family and community support are critical for any child’s healthy development, and gender-diverse children are no exception,” said Jason Rafferty, MD, MPH, Ed, FAAP. “What is most important is for a parent to listen, appreciate and encourage their child’s self-expressed identity. This enables uncomfortable but necessary dialogues about the child’s mental health as well as the family’s resiliency and well-being.”
According to the AAP, 56% of transgender children and minors have considered suicide, with 31% having attempted it previously. In contrast, 20% of cisgender minors expressed suicidal thoughts and 11% attempted suicide. This number was attributed by AAP doctors to a lack of emotional support for transgender minors.
“We encourage families, schools, and communities to value every child for who they are in the moment, even at a young age,” stated Cora Breuner, MD, FAAP, chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence. “As pediatricians and parents, we understand how difficult, and at times perplexing, it may be for family members to understand their child’s experience and sentiments.”
SB1 makes an exception for children born with chromosomal or congenital abnormalities.