Governor Lee Signs Anti-Trans Healthcare Bill into Law

by Wyatt Ronan

TENNESSEE — Yesterday evening, Republican Governor Bill Lee signed SB 126 (HB 1027) – a bill that unnecessarily regulates life-saving, best practice medical care for transgender youth.

SB 126 (HB 1027) is part of the 2021 “Slate of Hate” rippling through the Tennessee state legislature. This anti-transgender bill is the fifth discriminatory piece of legislation signed by Gov. Lee this session following HB 1182 (SB 1224), a business bathroom bill; SB 228, an anti-transgender sports ban; SB 1229, a sweeping anti-LGBTQ education bill; and HB 1233, an anti-transgender student bathroom bill.

These anti-equality bills are being pushed by national extremist groups and peddled by lawmakers in Tennessee in an effort to sow fear and division.

2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history. So far in 2021, 22 anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law. States have now enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined.

Tennessee is the first state to enact a bathroom bill since North Carolina’s reviled HB2, passed in 2016. It has enacted not one but two bathroom bills in recent days, both flagrantly discriminatory. HB 1233 (SB 1367), known as the “Student Bathroom Bill”, denies transgender students access to the bathroom and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity and makes schools liable if a student believes they have shared a sex-segregated space – bathrooms, locker rooms or other changing facility – with a transgender student. This bill is squarely in defiance of federal law. HB 1182/SB 1224, the “Business Bathroom bill”, is unprecedented: it requires businesses that don’t actively prevent transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity to post an offensive and outrageous sign warning that transgender people might be inside.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Lee signing SB 126 (HB 1027):

If lawmakers really care about the best interests of trans youth, they would focus on improving access to quality health care instead of playing doctor themselves. Patients, parents and health care providers should be guided by science and medical best practices rather when seeking treatments, not the whims of the state legislators. Gov. Lee has made Tennessee a pioneer in anti-transgender discrimination by signing the first and second bathroom bills since HB2 in recent days. Unfortunately his decision to sign SB 126 (HB 1027) therefore comes as no surprise. He and his anti-equality colleagues are advancing policy based on fear, not science and they will ultimately lose this fight.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

Human Rights Campaign Associate Regional Campaign Director Melodía Gutiérrez issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Lee signing SB 126 (HB 1027):

Instead of focusing on real issues affecting the people of Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee and his fellow Republicans have shown they have no shame. The Governor has told transgender youth they can’t use the bathroom at school, they can’t play school sports alongside their peers, and they can’t have LGBTQ people or issues discussed in the classroom, including in history or literature. Now he thinks he knows better than their doctors and parents, too. Shame on Governor Lee for letting anti-LGBTQ extremists make Tennessee their playground.

Melodía Gutiérrez, Human Rights Campaign Associate Regional Campaign Director

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