NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Signs, chants and frustration.
“I mean, it’s Friday,” Middle Tennessee Democratic Socialists of America Chair Mina Shedd said. “I wish I wouldn’t have had to do this.”
Friday evening saw people at War Memorial Plaza in Nashville counter-rally in favor of gender-affirming surgery for children.
It’s a topic that turned Nashville into a national conversation after conservative Matt Walsh posted a series of tweets accusing Vanderbilt University Medical Center of turning the surgery into a profit scheme.
“I know the doctors who were actually at that talk,” Shedd said. “I, myself, was actually at that talk, and seeing the type of coverage that he was putting out there was obviously very misleading.”
The counter-rally came as Walsh held his own rally against gender-affirming surgeries for children in the same location.
Walsh wrote on Twitter, “Vanderbilt got into the gender transition game admittedly in large part because it is very financially profitable.”
For its part, Vanderbilt wrote in a statement it is “now the subject of social media posts and a video that misrepresent facts.”
“As a trans person, this is super important to me. I have seen what has happened as a result of Matt Walsh and his coverage,” Shedd said. “I have known people who have suffered at the hands of his supporters.”
The issue has become increasingly divisive over the past few years here in Tennessee, with most Democrats in favor of continued access to gender-affirming care for children, while most Republicans are against it.
“We’re not going to allow any type of doctor or medical professional or any adult to be able to pressure some child into making an irreversible decision where their body is literally changed and mutilated to the point where they can’t recover,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) said.
Vandy said since its clinic opened in 2018, it has performed an average of five transgender surgeries a year on children who were at least 16 years old; none were genital procedures and none were done without parental consent.
“I’m very sympathetic to that. I certainly recognize that, and I want those kids to receive the necessary counseling that they need and the help,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) said. “But we shouldn’t be doing things that are irreversible to a 12-year-old or a 14-year-old or even a 16-year-old.”
Johnson questioned why gender-affirming surgery on children should be legal in a state where getting a tattoo under 18 is prohibited.