Human Rights Campaign Condemns Tennessee Senate for Passing Gender Affirming Care Ban

by HRC Staff

Nashville, Tennessee – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the Tennessee Senate for passing Senate Bill 1, an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that would ban age appropriate, medically necessary care to transgender youth under the age of 18.

Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may一in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents一prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment.

This law is one of many efforts political extremists and national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations have launched in Tennessee and across the country against transgender youth and their families. Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. Unfortunately, bolstered by disinformation spread by social media and designed to take aim at care for transgender youth, these bans directly place the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender youth in Tennessee at risk.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley released the following statement:

“Tennessee has passed more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation than any other state, and it seems there is no policy so blatantly discriminatory or outrageous that Tennessee won’t pass into law. Tennessee has targeted transgender student athletes time and time again, passed a uniquely offensive bathroom bill, allowed government contractors to discriminate with taxpayer funds, censored curriculum, and the list goes on. Tennessee has shown the LGBTQ+ community who it is - and we believe them. Not one of these laws was justified by anything other than discrimination, and SB 1 is no different. Gender affirming care is age-appropriate, medically necessary care that is provided only after the patient, the parents, and the doctors have agreed that’s the best path forward. In some cases, this care is life-saving. Shame on the Senate for passing legislation that does only harm and no good.”

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

Last year alone, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community and youth. Earlier this year, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed Senate Bill 16 – the first anti-LGBTQ+ law signed into law in 2023 – which will effectively ban the provision of gender affirming care to transgender patients under the age of 18. Arkansas passed a gender-affirming care ban in 2021, and Alabama passed another, with felony punishments, in 2022. Texas and Florida have each made efforts to impose such a ban through administrative action.


Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.

  • “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.

  • Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

Transgender children are not undergoing irreversible medical changes.

  • This is a fundamental misunderstanding about what transition looks like for kids.

  • Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time are in the best interest of the child.

  • Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.

  • In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
    • New name

    • New hairstyle

    • New clothing

    • None of this care is irreversible.

Being transgender is not new.

  • Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.

  • But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.

  • And very few transgender people change their mind.

ALL gender-affirming care is:

  • Age-appropriate

  • Medically necessary

  • Supported by all major medical organizations

  • Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents

And in many cases, this care is lifesaving:

  • A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

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