Thursday, September 28, 2023

Tennessee Legislature passes bills restricting gender affirming care for minors and drag show performances


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Featured Photo by Jenene Grover

Story by Jenene Grover

The Tennessee Legislature passed two divisive bills involving hormone and gender dysphoria treatment and surgery for minors and public adult cabaret performances in its Thursday session.

Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1 establish a distinct difference between a minor’s sex and gender and prevent healthcare providers from conducting any medical procedures to affirm the minor’s sex with the gender with or without parental permission. The bill passed with 77 ayes and 16 noes.

“When you start cutting off body parts of a child because you’re telling them that somehow or another there’s something wrong with their body, and they already think that. It is dangerous, it is destructive, and I will say it, it is evil,” said Rep. William Lamberth, sponsor of House Bill 1, when passing the bill.

Speaker of Tennessee House of Representatives Cameron Sexton, at a conference on Thursday, referenced polls that Gov. Bill Lee’s campaign ran to test support for the gender-affirming surgery legislation.

“Well, we ran them during the campaign, so every single race that we did. We didn’t release them. . .but I will say when we ran our polls, Republican, Democrat and Independent agreed with the legislation. We asked ‘with parental consent’ for a reason. When you ask for parental consent that’s a higher bar that people would agree with more than saying ‘should they do it without parental consent,’” said Sexton.

Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 9 make any form of public adult cabaret performance a Class A misdemeanor on first offense and a Class E felony on second or further offense in protection of possibly exposing a minor to the performance. It passed with 74 ayes and 19 noes.

“We’ve seen videos that have surfaced from here in Tennessee and places elsewhere in the country and watched them and were appalled and heard from hundreds if not thousands of our constituents wanting to know why in the world this type of overtly sexually entertainment could be taking place in a public area where kids are present,” said Sen. Jack Johnson, sponsor of Senate Bill 3, in the February 9 legislative session.

Rep. Torrey Harris spoke against Senate Bill 3 while in session then went to post about it on Twitter.

“Because of bills like this one, self hate, suicide, depression, and many mental health issues become a problem for our youth who want to be themselves and there is no solution to help our youth when it happens,” Harris tweeted.

Many Democrats have cited the vagueness of language in Senate Bill 3 and how it may restrict some performers such as Beyonce and Taylor Swift when they come to Nashville.

Jenene Grover is the government reporter for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Kailee Shores and Assistant News Editor Alyssa Williams, email

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter and Instagram at @mtsusidelines.

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