Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –
The “Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act” was passed by a vote of 77-16 in the Tennessee House of Representatives yesterday, after almost an hour of deliberation.
Rep. William Lamberth’s (R-Portland-District 44) House Bill 0001 (HB0001) which bans the use of hormones, puberty blockers, and “gender affirming” surgeries for minors in Tennessee, has now been aligned with its Senate version and passed by both legislative bodies.
After the House convened on February 23rd, several amendments to HB0001 were introduced and subsequently tabled by the legislature.
Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport-District 2) brought forward Amendment 3 which would have removed language saying, “the state of Tennessee has a compelling and legitimate interest in dignity of children” replacing it with “all children in the state of Tennessee have a common law right of protection, to be protected against injury by a third party or a doctor or anybody else.”
The amendment was drafted in light of certain common law arguments which resulted in the recent overturn of Roe vs. Wade. Rep. Hulsey stated that in the Dobbs case, “common law was referenced 44 times. […] if the courts are listening to common law arguments, we need to make them.”
Rep. Johnny Garrett refuted the common law approach, seemingly for its lack of durability saying, “Every time we run into something that is suggested to be the common law […] we pass a law to make it statutory.”
That amendment was tabled and two others, drafted by Democrat representatives and meant to change the bill entirely, were met with the same fate.
In discussion of the bill as passed by the Senate, Rep. Lamberth shared the following statements:
“When you start cutting off body parts of a child because you’re telling them that […] 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.”
“What those children need is love and support, mental health treatment, and time. […] In most circumstances, these teenage children whose bodies are changing so rapidly, they need time to determine how they feel about that change. Everybody on this floor is a recovering teenager.”
Democrat Rep. Torrey C. Harris’ (D-Memphis-District 91) asked the bill sponsor what would be done for youth already undergoing treatment involving hormones or puberty blockers, if this bill was to pass.
Rep. Lamberth acknowledged the problems with abruptly halting use of these medications and clarified that doctors of such patients would have until March 2024, to wean their patients off of them.
“Stair stepping them off of those drugs will hopefully start the healing process and allow their bodies to avoid such things as permanent sterilization, total loss of certain body parts, bone loss, depression, and other harms that currently are side effects of that medication,” he said.
The legislation was then passed by a vote of 77-16. All legislators in attendance cast their vote and none of the Republicans present voted against the bill.
Even more noteworthy however, is that three of those recorded “yay” votes were held by Democrat Representatives Yusuf Hakeem, Antonio D. Parkinson, and Joe Towns Jr.
Through the dedicated efforts of Rep. Lamberth, Sen. Jack Johnson, other sponsors of this legislation, and Tennesseans who reached out and made their voice heard, Tennessee has made a huge step forward in the fight to protect children across the state and throughout the country.
About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at firstname.lastname@example.org.