(NASHVILLE) Tennessee lawmakers are advancing legislation to prohibit minors from undergoing irreversible and harmful medical procedures to change their gender identity. Senate Bill 1 / House Bill 1, sponsored by Tennessee Majority Leaders, Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland), passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the House Health Subcommittee this week.
The legislation would provide the nation’s strongest protections against the removal of a child’s healthy body parts. If passed, it would ban medical interreference that alters a child’s hormonal balance and procedures that remove body parts to enable the minor to identify as a gender different from their biological sex.
“This legislation is about protecting children from harmful, life-altering and experimental medical procedures with unknown long-term effects,” said Johnson. “But we know that children who have these procedures are forfeiting healthy reproductive systems and subjecting themselves to lifelong hormone treatment. The weight of these decisions is too heavy for children. As a society, we understand that minors need limitations, so we place many age-restrictions on activities for children that can have lifelong consequences such as smoking, drinking alcohol, buying lottery tickets and even getting tattoos. It is reasonable to also put age-restrictions on these transformational elective medical procedures.”
“Gender dysphoria is a mental health condition that should be treated with love and understanding, therapy, and other appropriate interventions – just as we treat other mental health disorders,” Lamberth said. “Under no circumstance should we ever allow a child to undergo a procedure that destroys their normal, healthy development. I appreciate the wisdom of the committee members who recognize that this legislation protects minors from the negative consequences of adult decisions they aren’t ready for.”
If passed, a healthcare provider who violates the law can be sued in civil court by the minor injured, the parent of the minor injured or the Attorney General within 30 years of the violation. Providers found to be in violation could face up to a $25,000 penalty per violation and have their medical license restricted.
The legislation ensures that doctors can still prescribe hormone treatment to minors for medically necessary purposes and makes exceptions for children born with chromosomal anomalies or congenital defects.
The legislation advances to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Health Committee.