May 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Tennessee becomes second state to pass bill limiting medical care for trans minors

Illustration of a child in silhouette holding a transgender pride flag over their shoulders like a cape

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill into law Tuesday that includes an amendment to keep health care providers from prescribing hormone treatment for transgender minors who haven't yet hit puberty, according to the state's General Assembly.

Why it matters: Tennessee is now the second state to pass legislation that aims to restrict transition-related or gender-affirming care for trans minors, as a record number of state bills targeting trans youth have been introduced across the U.S.

Driving the news: In Arkansas, the only state to totally bar gender-affirming care for trans children — which can include hormones and puberty blockers — Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) unsuccessfully vetoed the bill.

  • He told Axios he saw it as "the most extreme law in the country." The Arkansas bill bans hormone treatments, surgery and puberty blockers.

Yes, but: The key difference between the bill in Tennessee and Arkansas is that no prepubertal minors receive hormone therapy for gender dysphoria, Chase Strangio, ACLU deputy director for transgender justice, told Axios.

  • "It unnecessarily codifies the standards of care but does not strip anyone of care," he said of the Tennessee bill.

What they're saying: "I think that all of these efforts are counter to the stance of the entire public health community and the needs that we know transgender children have if we want to give them the same opportunities to thrive," Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Women's Law Center, said.

Where it stands: More than 100 bills targeting trans people — with roughly 90 measures focused on trans minors — have been brought by predominately Republican state lawmakers this year, per ACLU data

Go deeper: Doctors fear next steps if states ban care for trans youth

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the ACLU.

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