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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a law that prevents adults from helping transgender youth access gender-affirming care without parental consent, making it the first of its kind in the nation. The law, known as House Bill 2310, allows for individuals who assist minors in accessing gender-affirming care in Tennessee to be sued for compensation by the minor or their parents. Exceptions exist for the child’s parents or legal guardians, adults with permission from the parents, and transportation companies that a minor could take to a care clinic. A previous version of the law included criminal penalties for those aiding minors in receiving prohibited medical procedures.

Tennessee had already prohibited gender-affirming care for minors through a previous law signed last July. The current law, which is set to go into effect on July 1, aims to discourage parents and families from seeking such care. Advocates argue that the legislation may be rooted in misinformation and intimidation tactics. Despite the ban on gender-affirming care, parents or legal guardians are still allowed to seek medical treatment for their child out of state. The ACLU has challenged the law banning gender-affirming care for minors, and if the Supreme Court decides to weigh in, it could set a precedent for similar bans in other states.

In addition to the ban on gender-affirming care for minors, Governor Lee also signed a bill penalizing individuals for assisting minors in obtaining abortions or abortion-inducing drugs without parental consent. Similar laws have been passed in several other GOP-led states in the wake of Roe v. Wade. Tennessee’s state legislature, with its Republican supermajority, has been at the forefront of passing anti-LGBTQ legislation, with Governor Lee never vetoing such bills. The state has enacted multiple anti-LGBTQ laws, including ones that require school administrators to inform parents about their child’s gender identity, allow people to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, permit foster families to discriminate against LGBTQ+ kids, and eliminate the human rights commission.

Tennessee’s aggressive approach to anti-LGBTQ legislation has drawn national attention, with the state enacting a drag ban and investigating a medical center for treating transgender patients. The state’s Attorney General is attempting to reinstate the drag ban in private spaces, despite a federal ruling deeming it unconstitutional. Advocacy groups see Tennessee as a policy laboratory for attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals at the state level, driven by the desire to appease a small activist base in the state. The state’s extreme rhetoric and policy decisions are aided by gerrymandering and low voter turnout, allowing for the proliferation of stringent anti-LGBTQ legislation. Tennessee’s resistance to LGBTQ+ rights reflects a larger trend in conservative states, where similar measures are being enacted to restrict rights and access to care for marginalized communities.

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