Tennessee governor approves ban on gender-confirming treatment for minors

Tennessee governor approves ban on gender-confirming treatment for minors
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Tuesday signed legislation into law that bans gender-confirming treatment for transgender youth, the latest in a series of new laws in the state that Democrats and advocates have argued unfairly target trans individuals. 

Lee quietly signed the latest bill without issuing a public statement from his office Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

The signing occurred on the same day Lee published an announcement about a trip to Memphis to meet with Arkansas Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonArkansas governor to ask state legislature to allow masks in schools Judge orders Arkansas to resume pandemic unemployment benefits What you need to know about the new COVID-19 surge MORE (R) over federal action on infrastructure. 

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Tennessee’s new transgender youth health law goes into effect immediately and bans doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, including puberty blockers, before they reach puberty. 

Advocates in Tennessee have said that doctors do not currently provide hormone therapy treatment to minors before entering puberty, in line with recommendations from the Endocrine Society. 

The law is similar to one enacted in Arkansas last month after the state legislature voted to override Hutchinson’s veto. Arkansas’s law includes a ban on gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery for anyone under the age of 18. 

The Hill has reached out to Lee’s office for comment on the bill. 

Lee’s approval of the treatment legislation comes a day after he signed a measure into law that would require businesses and government facilities in the state to post a sign alerting the public if they allow trans people to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.

The law followed another signed by Lee last week that requires all state public schools to make “reasonable accommodation" for someone who "will not or cannot" use a gender-specific bathroom.

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The law, called the Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act, defines a person's gender as someone’s “immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth” and a reasonable accommodation as "access to a single-occupancy restroom or changing facility, or use of an employee restroom or changing facility."

Advocacy groups have condemned the Tennessee "bathroom bills."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) wrote in recent statement that the measures are discriminatory toward transgender students, adding, “These anti-equality pieces of legislation are being pushed by national extremist groups and peddled by lawmakers in Tennessee in an effort to sow fear and division.”

"The bill further discriminates against transgender students and opens up schools to legal consequences if a student believes they have shared a sex-segregated space  bathrooms, locker rooms or other changing facility – with a transgender student. This bill is squarely in defiance of federal law and flagrantly discriminatory," the HRC said.  

Lee defended last week’s bathroom bill ahead of its signing, writing in a statement, “It’s a reasonable accommodation, it allows for accommodation for every student regardless of their gender," adding that the legislation was “a smart approach to the challenge.”