Transgender advocates are calling Tennessee “the state of hate” in response to a series of new laws aimed at protecting biological women.
LGBTQ activists see the laws as discriminatory to transgenders and say the Republican-run state is increasingly hostile to transgender rights. They’re also threatening legal action.
“Tennessee has gone well above board to go after trans folks,” said Sasha Buchert, an attorney for Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBTQ legal group. “This isn’t about policy, it’s about prejudice”
Since March, there have been at least four new laws implemented in the Volunteer State that involve the rights of transgender individuals and biological women.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed into law in March a ban on trans athletes competing in women’s sports. He said the measure would “ensure fair competition.”
During the past week, Mr. Lee signed a bill that allows individuals to sue a school if they are in the same bathroom with a transgender individual, reasoning that schools should offer transgenders a single-person restroom option.
Earlier this week, he signed a law that bans trans-minors from receiving gender-affirming medical treatment.
When signing the women’s sports bill, Mr. Lee said it would “preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition” and blamed the Biden administration for making the new state law necessary.
“This legislation responds to damaging federal policies that stand in opposition to the years of progress made under Title IX and I commend members of the General Assembly for their bipartisan work,” he said.
Tennessee also requires parents to be given 30 days notice when a school district plans to teach students about gender identity or sexual orientation. That legislation was enacted last month.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the criticism from transgender activists.
Though not the first state to begin passing these types of measures, Tennessee has recently picked up the pace and Mr. Lee has been laser-focused on protecting biological women’s rights.
“The governor has been very thoughtful about trying to lean into this issue,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America.
Ms. Nance noted other red states are also passing laws to protect the rights of biological women like Idaho, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia.
She said one of her top concerns is about predators going into public restrooms, not just on the transgender rights aspect of some of these big-box stores opening women’s restrooms to transgender people.
“It’s about predatory men who will say anything to gain access to women and children,” she said. “People who are predators prey.”
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