Tennessee bans gender-confirming treatment for children

Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law – which campaigners say addresses an invented problem

Joanna Taylor
Friday 21 May 2021 10:07 BST

Tennessee’s Republican governor has approved legislation banning gender affirming hormone treatment in children, despite such a practice being virtually nonexistent.

Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law on Tuesday, forbidding doctors from prescribing hormone treatments to prepubescent minors with immediate effect.

But LGBTQ+ advocates have condemned the measure, saying that it addresses an invented problem and is “a slap in the face” to young transgender people.

Michael Reding, a practice manager at Rager Adolescent Health – a Nashville-based medical office that specialises in healthcare for young LGBTQ+ people – told The New York Times that “codifying the current standards as prepubertal doesn’t affect anything we do or anything that the state does”.

Offering hormone treatment to children is “not done by anyone that we’re aware of in the state,” he added.

This is the accepted position of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which recommends that children should begin experiencing puberty before receiving hormone treatments such as puberty blockers.

The bill is the second of its kind to be signed into law in the United States. In April, Arkansas’s Republican governor Asa Hutchinson attempted to veto similar legislation, but was overridden by the State Legislature.

Arkansas’s law takes a broader approach than the one signed in Tennessee, banning both gender confirming hormone treatments and surgery in minors.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, more anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law this year across the US than in the last three years combined.

In Tennessee, Governor Lee has signed a slew of bills relating to transgender people. On Monday, he approved a measure which requires businesses that allow transgender people to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity to post a sign indicating this on the premises.

He also signed a bill which puts schools at risk of being sued if they allow transgender people to use bathrooms or locker rooms that reflect their identity, and another which requires children over the age of 10 to submit legal documents that show their assigned sex before they can compete in school sports.

His actions have been condemned by LGBTQ+ campaign groups.

Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told the NYT that this latest measure is another example of the state government saying it “doesn’t trust trans youth” and that it is a “slap in the face” to young transgender people.

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