NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are taking up several bills this legislative session targeting the rights of transgender youths and young adults.
Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) introduced House Bill 2835 on February 2, called the "Youth Health Protection Act," which bans gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy for minors, and imposes penalties on medical providers who provide the procedures.
The rules would not apply in cases of "good-faith medical decision of a parent or guardian of a minor born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sexual development," or for minors who received treatment before the bill would take effect.
The bill proposes banning any healthcare provider receiving state funds from providing these services or performing services "that constitutes the performance of or preparation for a gender transition procedure to a minor."
The bill also allows parents and guardians to pull their children from mental healthcare treatment or activity that forms "the child’s conceptions of sex and gender or to treat gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity.”
The bill directs action at "employees or agents of the state" requiring them to notify parents or guardians in writing if they have knowledge that a minor has "symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor's sex."
If passed into law, the bill would take effect on July 1, 2022.
Ragan also introduced HB1894 this session, which proposed preventing transgender female athletes from playing in higher education female sports. His bill was withdrawn on Jan. 31, and the Senate companion bill was referred to a committee.
In 2021, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a law Ragan co-sponsored banning transgender athletes from participating in middle and high school sports teams that aligned with their gender identity. He also signed a law last year banning hormone treatments for transgender children.
Advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the Tennessee law, saying lawmakers are illegally discriminating against students and violating the U.S. Constitution.
The trial for that lawsuit was set for March 21, 2023.