ACLU-TN Condemns Calls for Anti-Transgender Legislation, Transgender Health Care Inquiry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee condemned Gov. Bill Lee and other politicians Thursday after they called for an investigation into transgender health care practices at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. ACLU-TN also launched a statewide education service to provide Tennesseans with information about transgender health care.

Gov. Lee said he plans to introduce legislation that would limit transgender Tennesseans’ access to health care in response to social media posts by Matt Walsh, a columnist for the Daily Wire. Walsh has previously claimed online that the clinic “chemically castrates minors” and other claims by hospital administrators are false.

“We are deeply troubled by the governor’s decision to stigmatize transgender children and their families and by lawmakers’ calls to introduce legislation that limits transgender people’s access to health care. Doctors who provide such critical care to trans young people save lives. They support children and their families, allowing them to thrive, and these professionals are nothing short of heroes,” said Henry Seaton, ACLU-TN Transgender Justice Advocate. “For transgender people in Tennessee who are witnessing this hateful action and fearing it, please know that the ACLU-TN will always stand up for the rights of children and families to make informed and safe private medical decisions. Our priority is to save transsexual lives and ensure the safety of our trans community members.”

The ACLU-TN argued that multiple studies have shown that providing gender-affirming and supportive care saves young lives by dramatically reducing depression and suicidal thoughts.

When it comes to transgender health care, the ACLU-TN reported that numerous medical, health and psychiatric organizations have spoken out against political efforts to block access to recognized health care services for trans youth.

“Parents, patients and health care providers, not politicians, should decide what health care is in the best interest of an individual young person,” said ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Kathy Sinbeck. “Medical and psychiatric care for transgender people is based on evidence-based clinical guidelines and current state law that already regulates transgender health care. The effort to limit access to health care for transgender Tennesseans is a major government overreach, and the ACLU-TN stands ready to oppose interference with the privacy rights of parents and families to make medical decisions when they seek gender-affirming health care.”

The ACLU-TN added that misinformation like the recent social media posts have sparked attacks on trans children and adults from state legislatures across the country. Last year alone, Tennessee lawmakers introduced fourteen anti-transgender bills.

A new program launched by the ACLU-TN, TRANScend Tennessee, is a statewide community education, engagement and empowerment initiative. The program’s goals include educating the general public about the lives of transgender Tennesseans, supporting and empowering transgender people in Tennessee, and challenging dangerous narratives that harm the state’s transgender community.

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