State Watch

Elliot Page tells fans to urge Tennessee governor to veto anti-transgender bills

Academy Award-nominated actor Elliot Page is calling on his fans to contact Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) and urge him to veto three bills heading for his desk that impose restrictions on transgender residents.

The "Umbrella Academy" star, who announced in December he was transgender, made the appeal to his nearly 2 million Twitter followers on Tuesday.

"Call or email @GovBillLee and tell him that trans people who live in Tennessee deserve equality and access to healthcare and public accommodations just like any other citizen. Ask him to veto these bills," Page wrote, including a link to the Tennessee Equality Project's campaign to stop the legislation.

The three pieces of legislation supported by Republicans in both chambers have been labeled by the group as "dangerous anti-trans bills."  

HB1233, known as the "bathroom bill," would prohibit transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. It would also allow Tennessee students, teachers and school employees to refuse to share facilities with transgender students and would allow them to sue public schools that do not provide them with "reasonable accommodations." 

Another, HB1182, would mandate that businesses and organizations with trans-inclusive policies for multiperson bathrooms post a sign that reads: "This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom."

The Tennessee Equality Project called the proposed sign "demeaning" and warned that it "could lead to increased policing of trans people in restrooms and aggression towards trans-inclusive businesses."

The third bill, SB126, would ban health care providers from prescribing hormone treatment for transgender minors. 

"Why is that a bad idea? It is discriminatory because we don't normally put standards of care into the law and if the standard of care changes based on research, we shouldn't have to amend the law. It could also invite more restrictive amendments in future legislative sessions," the Equality Project wrote online.

The American Civil Liberties Union has tracked at least 25 bills specifically targeting trans youth health care, proposed in at least 19 states this year. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the Endocrine Society and several other large medical groups have publicly opposed bills outlawing trans youth treatment. 

Medical experts and LGBT advocates have been sounding the alarm about the negative physical and mental impact these bills are having on the transgender community.

"In the past when states have floated anti-trans bills, we've seen calls to the trans lifeline as much as triple,"  Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Hill last month. "That really shows the extreme mental health harm inflicted on trans people of all ages. They really send a message to all trans people about whether or not your government cares about you."

It is not clear if Lee plans to sign the bills into law. However, he has signed controversial laws impacting the LGBTQ community before.

On Monday, he signed a bill that requires the parent or legal guardian of any individual attending a Tennessee school to be notified before the child is enrolled in a sexual education curriculum, giving parents the option to exclude their child from participating.

The bill specifically calls out sex education that includes "sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum."

In March, Lee signed a bill requiring students to provide proof of their sex at birth in order to register to play high school or middle school sports at state schools.