NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – At a rally that filled the plaza outside the Tennessee Statehouse, Republican lawmakers and well-known conservative figures promised supporters they would work on legislation to ban gender-affirming procedures for transgender youth at the state and federal level.
The crowd of people supporting the “Rally to End Child Mutilation” cheered on conservative commentator Matt Walsh, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Tennessee House Majority Leader William Lamberth.
“I want you to know I’m going to do everything I can at the federal level to make sure we protect our children,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
Lamberth told the crowd and wrote an op-ed in the Tennessean that he is committed to banning these “barbaric procedures” performed on minors.
Tennessee Senate Majority leader Jack Johnson had the same message for the crowd and tweeted, “Tennessee will NOT permit harmful ‘gender-affirming’ medical procedures to exist in our state – now or ever.”
All of these promises were made over the noise of people protesting in favor of gender-affirming care for transgender children.
“They have nothing they can say, so they lie,” Walsh said over the noise of protestors. “One of the most ridiculous lies that they tell is that they want to affirm the kids. They’re not affirming the child. They’re affirming confusion. They’re affirming despair. That’s what they’re affirming.”
Many in the crowd said Walsh was the main reason they wanted to attend Friday’s event. “I’m in love with Matt Walsh and everything he is about. This is a dream come true,” said one 17-year-old attendee who drove with her mom from out of state.
In September, Walsh accused Vanderbilt Medical Center children’s hospital of performing gender-affirming surgeries on minors for profit and forcing staff to take part in them despite moral obligations.
Tennessee GOP lawmakers responded to the accusations with a letter to the hospital demanding they stop performing these surgeries on people under the age of 18. In response, Vanderbilt said they perform on average five of these surgeries a year and it’s an “immaterial percentage” of their bottom line and has never performed genital procedures on minors. The hospital also said they have never forced a member of their team to participate in a procedure they find morally objectionable.
However, many of the rally attendees didn’t believe Vanderbilt’s statement and were glad lawmakers were promising legislative changes.
Ultimately, despite loud opposition from some in attendance, Lamberth’s party holds a supermajority in the Statehouse and he said he feels good about their chances of passing a bill banning these procedures next legislative session.