TN House Votes to Outlaw 'Gender Mutilation' of Kids and Drag Shows in Public Settings
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The Tennessee House passed a bill on Thursday that will ban "adult cabaret" performances such as drag shows in public venues, including anywhere minors might be present.
The Tennessee Star reports the bill passed by a 74-19 vote.
House Bill 9 creates an offense for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult. The bill defines an "adult cabaret performance" to mean a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for pay.
The measure notes the first violation of the offense is a Class A misdemeanor with fines up to $2,500 and one year in prison. A second or subsequent violation is a Class E felony with fines up to $4,000 and prison time from one to six years.
The legislation was introduced in December and is sponsored by State Representative Chris Todd (R-Madison County), according to The Tennessee Star.
A slightly different version had passed the GOP-led Senate chamber earlier this month, meaning lawmakers must wrangle out the differences before it can go to Republican Gov. Bill Lee's desk.
The Tennessee House also voted 77-16 on Thursday to pass The Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act. Three Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to pass the bill.
Civil rights groups have vowed an immediate lawsuit if and when the bill becomes law — setting up the potential for a lengthy legal battle over the coming months.
"These children do not need these medical procedures to be able to flourish as adults," said House Majority Leader William Lamberth. "They need mental health treatment. They need love and support, and many of them need to be able to grow up to become the individuals that they were intended to be."
If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Lee, doctors would be prohibited from providing gender-altering treatments to anyone under the age of 18, including prescribing puberty blockers and hormones — and could even be penalized.
However, the legislation spells out exceptions, including allowing doctors to perform these medical services if the patient's care had begun prior to July 1, 2023 — which is when the ban is proposed to go into effect. The bill then states that care must end by March 31, 2024.
The measure also allows the state attorney general to investigate healthcare providers who may violate the statute, which carries a $25,000 penalty.
State Democrats aren't happy with the measure. "If a doctor and a family feels that taking hormone blockers is going to be healthy and productive and life-saving for these children, that's a decision that should be made," said Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson.
Lee is expected to sign both bills.
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