The first bill, like other governors across the country, prohibits transgender medical care for children.
The second measure, on the other hand, is a first of its kind in that it restricts drag acts to age-appropriate venues and prohibits them from performing in public places. That is, when the law goes into effect, bringing children to drag events will be illegal.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a blanket ban on gender-affirming health care for transgender children into law on Thursday, despite calls to reject the bill and threats of legal action.
The use of drugs such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy to treat any underlying cause of gender dysphoria in Tennessee children who identify as transgender or nonbinary is prohibited under the new health legislation. Surgery, which was previously uncommon in Tennessee, is also prohibited.
Children who are currently on the drugs will have until March 31, 2024 to discontinue treatment. The legislation, which was passed by the legislature’s Republican supermajority this year, will take effect this summer.
The rule was specifically written to prohibit not a single medicine, but rather medical treatment for an underlying diagnosis: gender dysphoria, as well as “any mental ailment, illness, handicap, or deformity.”
Lee also approved a new rule limiting “adult-oriented” entertainment, such as “male and female impersonators,” to age-restricted areas on public land. The bill was introduced in response to a string of scandals involving drag shows across the state.
Senate Bill 3 strictly forbids “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to children,” as defined by Tennessee’s obscenity law.
The law will go into effect on July 1.
It’s unclear how the rule would be implemented, but it could open up a new avenue for contesting drag show performances in court. Violations of the statute are classified as a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class E felony for subsequent offenses.