TN Lawmakers Could Have Stopped “Gender Affirming” Treatments For Minors Back In 2022, But Chose To Wait

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Folks across the country have been discussing Tennessee’s recent ban on gender affirming treatment and surgery for minors in the state, which will go into effect on July 1st, but what they might not know is that similar legislation was actually killed in the state legislature just last year.  

Tennessee lawmakers had the opportunity to put a stop to gender affirming “treatments” and surgeries as early as July 2022, but chose to put it off.

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During the state’s previous legislative session, Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma-District 16) and Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge-District 33) brought SB2696/HB2835, otherwise known as “The Youth Health Protection Act.”

The bill was not given much public consideration before being placed on the legislature’s back burner with Sen. Bowling saying, “I look forward to when we can come back next year with some legislation that Tennesseans can agree to.” 

Just a few months later, in September of 2022, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and his team would provide a disconcerting peak into Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s gender affirming care practices involving minors.

Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan may not have known about Vanderbilt’s practices specifically, but this was likely the type of thing they had been hoping to get ahead of. 

In November of 2022, “The Youth Health Protection Act” was filed once again, this time under SB0005/HB1378.

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At the same time, Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin-District 27) and House Republican Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44) filed similar legislation under SB0001/HB0001.

SB0001 garnered the necessary support and was quickly pushed through the legislative process, passing in both the Senate and House back in February.

The language of SB0005 and SB0001 both would have accomplished the same goal of prohibiting gender affirming care for minors in the state. However, there were a few differences.

The most noteworthy being, that where SB0001 enforces a civil penalty of $25,000 per violation, SB0005 would have only enforced a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation. 

SB0001 also left out certain provisions that SB0005 contained regarding parental rights and other protections. 

The bill text for SB0005 affirms a parent’s right to “withhold consent for a treatment, activity, or mental healthcare service that is designed and intended to form the child’s conceptions of sex and gender or to treat gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity” and explicitly prohibits employees and agents of the state from infringing on that right. 

Employees and agents of the state would have also been explicitly prohibited from withholding information from a minor’s parents, “relevant to the physical or mental health of their child and of a sort that parents interested in and responsible for the well-being of a minor reasonably would demand and should be apprised of.” This is clarified later on to include information on if a child is exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, etc.

The bill also offered certain protections to “whistleblowers” which would be a person taking steps to alert authorities of a violation, testifying or preparing to testify in a proceeding concerning a violation, or assisting in a proceeding concerning a violation.  

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Since both of these aspects of SB0005 remain absent from Tennessee law, perhaps we will see bills brought next year in an attempt to add them. 

Either way, with SB0001 Tennessee now has a law to protect children from the harmful effects of hormone replacement therapy and surgical mutilation for the purposes of gender affirmation. Put simply, it seems “a win is a win.”

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 adelia@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

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