Tennessee's Discriminatory Bills: An Unjust Assault on the Human Rights of LGBTQIA Individuals

March 6, 2023

The Tennessee Senate has recently passed two bills that have sparked outrage and condemnation from civil rights activists, for their blatant disregard for basic human rights. The first bill is a ban on public drag performances, while the second bill criminalizes healthcare providers who offer gender-affirming care to minors. If found guilty of violating these laws, offenders could face hefty fines and even imprisonment for repeat offenses. This move by the state government is seen as an attack on vulnerable members of society – particularly transgender youth – who are already facing discrimination in various forms. These discriminatory bills are a step backward in terms of progress toward social acceptance and equality and must be challenged by individuals across all spectrums of society.

The first bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Paul Rose, restricts public drag performances. The second bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Janice Bowling, would impose criminal penalties on healthcare providers who offer gender-affirming care to minors. According to the bill, first-time violators are charged with a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to one year in prison. The stakes are even higher for those who are found guilty of a second or subsequent offense, as it will be classified as a Class E felony. This could carry a much more severe punishment, including up to six years in prison and/or a $3,000 fine.

The two bills have been met with significant backlash from within the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as from civil rights activists and allies. These bills are seen as a direct violation of human rights, as they seek to deny transgender individuals their freedom to express themselves and access the healthcare they need. The Tennessee ACLU has argued that these bills violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating against transgender individuals. Furthermore, they argue that it interferes with the rights of transgender individuals to receive medical care based on their gender identity and expression.  

The language of the bill has also drawn concern. Drag performers are defined as "male or female impersonators," a term that could be interpreted to include anyone who does not conform to traditional gender norms. This definition could have a wide-reaching effect, not just on drag performers but also on LGBTQIA+ persons who do not fit into traditional gender roles. This could mean that transgender individuals or those with non-binary identities may face discrimination and criminal charges for simply living their lives authentically.

It is clear that these bills are nothing more than a direct attack on the rights of transgender individuals, and drag queens, and they should be fought against by people of all backgrounds. People must come together to protect the most vulnerable members of society from discrimination and ensure that they have access to the healthcare they need. The fight for gender equality in Tennessee is not over yet; we must continue to work together to build a better and more inclusive society.  The Tennessee Senate's decision is an affront to human rights and should not be tolerated. It is time for us all to stand up for what is right and demand justice for transgender individuals in the state of Tennessee.



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