Tennessee’s two most powerful state legislators introduced legislation prohibiting healthcare providers from performing sex-altering procedures on minors.
The majority leaders of the Tennessee House and Senate, Rep. William Lamberth and Sen. Jack Johnson, have filed what they dubbed the “Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation” Act in their respective chambers.
The move by Lamberth and Johnson comes weeks after an explosive investigation by Tennessee native Matt Walsh. The conservative pundit allegedly uncovered revelations about the state’s leading pediatric transgender clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
In his reporting, Walsh concluded that the pediatric transgender clinic’s leaders were powerfully motivated by reaping profit in performing sex-altering surgeries and procedures on minors more than by providing them sound medical care.
As reported by The Dallas Express, Walsh reportedly uncovered footage of Dr. Shayne Taylor, who heads Vanderbilt’s pediatric transgender clinic, pressing the financial case for these surgeries.
“[We] put down some costs of how much money we think each patient would bring in, and this is only including top surgery; this isn’t including any bottom surgery, and it’s a lot of money,” Taylor apparently said in the video. “These surgeries make a lot of money.”
For example, Taylor said, “female to male chest reconstruction can bring in $40,000.”
“These are huge money makers,” the doctor proclaimed.
Walsh’s exposé on Vanderbilt’s pediatric transgender clinic sent shockwaves through the state’s political power structures.
Republican Governor Bill Lee, who just won reelection in a field of 10 candidates with over 65% of the vote, had said, “The pediatric transgender clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical, and legal concerns.”
“We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain,” Lee added. “We have to protect Tennessee children, and this warrants a thorough investigation.”
Days after the national mid-term elections, Lamberth and Johnson appear to be making good on the governor’s concerns. The bill, filed as HB 1 in the Tennessee House and SB 1 in the Senate, is the first of its kind in the nation.
First, the bills outright ban medical procedures that “alter minors’ hormonal balance and procedures that remove organs” performed for the “purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex or treating purported discomfort or distress from a discordance between the minor’s sex and asserted identity.”
The ban is not without an enforcement mechanism, as it authorizes the state’s attorney general to bring action against a healthcare provider who violates the proposed new statute, imposing a $25,000 fine for each such violation.
The proposed bills exempt procedures on children born with chromosomal anomalies or congenital defects, which account for .018% of the total population, according to research.
The bill would also allow children on whom these surgeries are performed to sue their parents and doctors later.
“Interfering or destroying the healthy, normal reproductive organs of a child for the purpose of altering their appearance is profoundly unethical and morally wrong,” Lamberth said in a news release.
Johnson tweeted, “We love Tennessee kids and feel strongly about defending them against this irreparable harm. That’s why I’ve worked alongside [Lamberth] to ensure this is the first bill filed in the 2023 legislative session.”
The proposed bill runs afoul of the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) position, which calls such bans “a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine.”
“Empirical evidence has demonstrated that trans and non-binary gender identities are normal variations of human identity and expression,” the AMA wrote in 2021. “For gender-diverse individuals, standards of care and accepted medically necessary services that affirm gender or treat gender dysphoria may include mental health counseling, non-medical social transition, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and/or gender-affirming surgeries.”
The AMA went on to say that “clinical guidelines established by professional medical organizations for the care of minors promote these supportive interventions based on the current evidence and that enable young people to explore and live the gender that they choose.”
Walsh, on the other hand, was pleased with the bill filings, tweeting, “The media is complaining that our legislation banning ‘gender-affirming care’ for minors will be among the strictest in the nation. Personally, I couldn’t be prouder of that.”
However, even if the bill passes the legislature, it will surely be met with legal challenges, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee staked out its stark opposition to the bill in a press statement.
“Everyone should have access to the healthcare they need to survive and thrive. This legislation takes away the ability of families and medical professionals to provide life-saving care for transgender youth,” ACLU Tennessee charged.
“Trans young people deserve love, respect, and dignity, and the ACLU of Tennessee is deeply committed to protecting trans young people from physical and emotional harm,” the organization concluded. “We will be bringing the full force of our organization to bear in fighting this legislation.”