Tennessee Bans Drag Shows for Minors and Trans Youth Medical Procedures

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
March 3, 2023US News
Tennessee Bans Drag Shows for Minors and Trans Youth Medical Procedures
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee at the White House on April 30, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

“Adult cabaret performances” in front of children and transgender medical treatment for minors have now been banned in Tennessee, as Republican Governor Bill Lee signed the legislation into law Thursday, March 2. Both laws will go into effect beginning July 1.

The adult cabaret performance bill, which includes shows by drag queens or female impersonators, is the first such bill to be signed into law in the United States.

It prevents performances by drag queens or other cabaret or adult-themed entertainers from being held at any venue where children might be present. It additionally makes it a criminal offense for anyone hosting or performing in them.

The first offense comes with a class A misdemeanor charge with up to a $2,500 fine and up to one year in prison. Subsequent offenses would escalate charges to class E felonies with a one-to-six-year prison term and fines of up to $3,000.

The other bill signed Thursday bans“ gender-affirming care” on minors in Tennessee such as hormone therapy or elective surgeries.

The bill is similar to others being debated in mostly GOP-led states around the country. In January, Utah’s Governor signed the first such bill this year into law, banning hormone therapy and elective surgeries on minors.

Drag Show Bill

“The concern is … children that are potentially exposed to sexualized entertainment, to obscenity, and we need to make sure that they’re not,” Governor Lee told reporters near Dr. William Burris Elementary School in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

The measure (pdf) amends portions of existing obscenity laws in the state by clearly defining what characterizes an “adult cabaret performance.”

The legislation doesn’t explicitly name “drag shows.” Instead, under the proposed law, the definition of “adult cabaret performance” is clarified to include those performances featuring topless, go-go, and exotic dancers, strippers, or “similar entertainers,” as well as “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.”

Transgender Youth Health Care Bill

The act (pdf) “prohibits a healthcare 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.”

The bill was filed as the first piece of legislation for the 113th Tennessee General Assembly, noting its importance as a top priority in the Republican supermajorities in the state legislature.

During a Senate committee debate for the bill, both sides of the argument were heard. A Nashville resident who identifies as a transgender woman claimed the bill was dangerous and would have a negative impact on the suicide rates of youth who experience gender dysphoria.

Another witness who testified, Prisha Mosley, experienced gender dysphoria as a minor and was allowed to undergo procedures that resulted in immense harm and issues later in life.

“I will agree that lots of trans kids are suicidal and that suicide is a risk, but in my situation, when I said the word gender, all of the other things that caused those suicidal ideations were put to the side and no longer considered,” Mosley told the senators. “And getting treatment for trauma and preventive care is much harder than getting trans care.”

Mosley also told her story to The Epoch Times late last year, saying she felt betrayed by the health professionals who recommended testosterone treatments and an elective mastectomy.

Prisha Mosley
Prisha Mosley. (Courtesy of Independent Women’s Forum)

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jack Johnson, said during debate the bill would not create a criminal penalty for doctors, but they “would be subject to losing their medical license.”

“The state does have a compelling interest,” he said, responding to a question from his Democrat colleague. “We have both voted for bills that set parameters for the state’s interest to protect children.”

He said he had landed on the side of the debate of the state having a compelling interest because any medical procedure could be permanent and irreversible.

Johnson said the mechanism of enforcement could come through the attorney general’s office, which could sue a health care provider under the law.

The other legal implications are that it would open up the ability for individuals who underwent similar treatments as a minor to sue their parents for damages. They would also be able to sue the medical provider.

Other States Following Suit on Drag

PEN America, a nonprofit organization championing free speech, states a total of 14 bills have been introduced regarding drag performances so far this year across the United States—and mostly in Republican-led states, including Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

Drag Queen Story Hour, an organization founded in 2015 that promotes drag performers reading books to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores, has become a particular target of Republicans and Christian lobbyist groups, according to the news service, with such groups becoming the driving force behind much of the legislation.

Categorizing its drag shows as “family entertainment,” Drag Queen Story Hour has grown to include chapters in 28 cities and states across the United States, with a further three in Europe and one in Japan.

Amy Gamm contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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