Washington County’s delegation to the Tennessee House of Representatives has signed on as co-sponsors of legislation to prohibit transgender medical procedures for minors.
State Reps. Rebecca Alexander, R-Jonesborough, and Tim Hicks, R-Gray, are listed as prime co-sponsors of a bill that is being called the Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act. The bill was filed by the state General Assembly’s two GOP majority leaders, Rep. William Lamberth of Portland and Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin.
The bill’s caption reads the legislation would prohibit “a health care provider from performing on a minor or administering to a minor a medical procedure if the performance or administration of the procedure is for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
A breakdown of the bill
House officials say current Tennessee law generally prohibits health care providers from prescribing a course of treatment that involves hormone treatment for gender dysphoric or gender incongruent prepubertal minors. HB0001 would replace current law and establish prohibitions related to the performance on minors of certain medical procedures related to gender identity, creates private causes of action for violations, and establishes additional penalties for violations.
The proposed legislation bill would prohibit “licensed health care professionals, establishments, and facilities (collectively referred to as a “health care provider”) from performing or offering to perform on a person under 18 years of age (a “minor”), or administering or offering to administer to a minor, a medical procedure if the performance or administration of the procedure is for the purpose of:
• Enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the immutable characteristics of the reproductive system that define the minor as male or female, as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth (the minor’s “sex”); or
• Treating purported discomfort or distress from a discordance between the minor’s sex and asserted identity.
The legislation also reads: “For purposes of this bill, a ‘medical procedure’ includes both surgical procedures and the prescribing, administering, or dispensing of a drug or device.”
A leading GOP issue
A number of other states with GOP-controlled legislatures, including Alabama and Arkansas, have already passed a similar law on transgender medical care. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association has urged governors to oppose state legislation that would prohibit medically necessary gender transition-related care for minor patients, calling such efforts “a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine.”
State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said passing legislation to “protect children from elective gender surgeries” will be the “first order of business” when the Republican-controlled 113th General Assembly begins its session on Tuesday.
Crowe and his colleagues say the legislation is a direct response to what he said where reports that “Nashville medical providers were performing irreversible elective procedures on minors to remove healthy body parts.”
He said video has “also surfaced on social media of Nashville medical providers touting ‘gender affirming care’ as a ‘huge money maker.’”
Alexander said reports that Vanderbilt University Medical Center has provided gender-affirming care to minors is troubling to GOP lawmakers.
“Children shouldn’t be changing their bodies until they are 18 and really know what they are doing,” she said.
Hicks agreed, adding his co-sponsorship of HB0001 is “an effort to protect our children.”
A barrier to proper care
John Baker, the co-founder and president of the Pride Community and Education Center of the Tri-Cities, said the legislation will do “just the opposite” of protecting children who are dealing with gender identity issues.
“This is a bill of hate and exclusion,” Baker said. “It is actually damaging and harms our children.”
He said HB0001creates “a problem where one does not currently exist” by placing obstacles between transgender children, their parents and their doctors.
“This just shows the cruelty of our Legislature,” Baker said. “Politicians are not doctors.”
Editors Note: The Press will feature a story on the complete legislative agendas of state lawmakers representing Washington County in its Sunday edition.