NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was a bill in Tennessee that drew a lot of attention from across the country. Earlier this year, Gov. Bill Lee signed into law SB0001, which prohibits gender-affirming care for minors who are transgender. A month later, now LGBTQ advocates are suing the state, claiming the law, “violates the constitutional rights of Tennessee teens and their parents.”
“Not a single doctor with experience in treating transgender youth testified in support of the bill. The legislature has ignored all the testimony that it heard and without regard for actual human lives being impacted by such a piece of legislation, they proceeded to intact it,” said Sruti Swaminathan with Lambda Legal.
The 43-page lawsuit, filed by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was on behalf of three families and a Memphis-based doctor. The suit goes into detail, looking at the number of public concerns that were raised ahead of the bill being sighed by the governor. For days, people held protests against the passing of the bill.
The bill prohibits medical professionals from providing transgender minors with treatments, “for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex,” according to the bill’s text.
The law is set to go into effect on July 1, unless the lawsuit succeeds.
“It’s going to be devastating for them, and for some, they have even indicated that they will not have the ability to carry on. Life has already been so stressful for them, even as a young person who doesn’t suffer from gender dysphoria, life is difficult. Imagine finally accessing the care that helps them feel the most balanced, the most themselves, and then having that ripped away by your state,” explained Swaminathan.
The Williams family is among those listed in the lawsuit. The suit goes into detail about their 15-year-old daughter, who was born male. She remembered feeling uncomfortable in her body for years, and she felt as if she “was drowning and trapped in the wrong body. She avoided changing clothes in front of anyone, tried to hide her body behind baggy clothing, and was not comfortable hugging her family,” according to the lawsuit.
In 2021, her parents took her to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, where she started gender-affirming treatment. The family described her attitude changed once that started, “she no longer felt fear and anxiety about her body changing in ways inconsistent with her gender, which greatly improved her mental health.”
“What I’ve heard across the board is transgender children are planning on fleeing the state, to protect their children’s health and safety and to obtain the medical treatment that their children need,” said Swaminathan.
At the time when the bill was passed by lawmakers, Republicans stood firm, stating the focus is on protecting children.
“This is not a partisan issue. It’s a shame that this has become a partisan issue. Protecting our children from dangerous procedures that have a lifelong of hurt and have no benefit to them scientifically, that’s something we should all be able to stand together on,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth, (R—Portland).
Lamberth had expressed concerns over life-changing procedures being done on children.
“I hate to disparage them, but it’s not following the science. A double mastectomy is never a good thing to do for a child that is going through body dysphoria or gender dysphoria. If an adult wants to get that type of procedure done, they’re an adult. They can do whatever they want to,” said Lamberth.
News 2 reached out to the Attorney General’s office, which is named in the lawsuit. We received the following statement.
We have not yet been served with the lawsuit. We look forward to reviewing the complaint. Mounting evidence has persuaded a growing number of countries that irreversible medical interventions are not appropriate for kids showing symptoms of gender dysphoria. The Tennessee General Assembly passed a law to protect Tennessee children from the lifelong consequences of these interventions, and we will vigorously defend that law.Elizabeth Lane, spokesperson for the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office