Tennessee lawmakers OK bill criminalizing adults who help minors receive gender-affirming care


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Statehouse on Thursday gave their final approval to legislation criminalizing adults who help minors receive gender-affirming care without parental consent, clearing the way for the first-in-the-nation proposal to be sent to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for his signature.

The bill mirrors almost the same language from a so-called “anti-abortion trafficking” proposal Tennessee Republican lawmakers approved just a day prior. In that version, supporters are hoping to stop adults from helping young people obtain abortions without permission from their parents or guardians.

Lee, a Republican, hasn’t publicly commented on either bill but supporters are confident the governor will sign them into law. Lee eagerly approved both the state’s sweeping abortion ban and the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for children. He has also never issued a veto during his time as governor.

While the Republican supermajority touted the proposed statutes necessary to protect parental rights, critics warned about the possible broad application. Violations could range from talking to an adolescent about a website on where to find care to helping that young person travel to another state with looser restrictions on gender-affirming care services.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, Tennessee has enacted more anti-LGBTQ+ laws more than any other state since 2015, identifying more than 20 bills that advanced out of the Legislature over the past few months.

This includes sending Gov. Lee a bill to ban spending state money on hormone therapy or sex reassignment procedures for inmates — though it would not apply to state inmates currently receiving hormone therapy — and requiring public school employees to out transgender students to their parents.

Tennessee Republicans also passed a measure that would allow LGBTQ+ foster children to be placed with families that hold anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs. Lee signed the bill into law earlier this month.

“Tennessee lawmakers are on the verge of enacting more than twice as many anti-LGBTQ+ laws as any other state, a staggering assault on their own constituents,” Human Rights Campaign Senior Director of Legal Policy Cathryn Oakley said in a statement.

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