Antonia Lopez-Vega | The Poly Post

Tennessee bans youth from receiving gender-affirming healthcare

By Antonia Lopez-Vega, April 11, 2023

A bill passed into Tennessee law March  3 raised concerns and questions among CPP students about the rights of transgender youth and what lies ahead for transgender people across the United States.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill into effect which bans gender-affirming healthcare for minors. This would make access to hormone therapy, puberty blockers and surgery illegal for anyone under the age of 18.

The bill bans all healthcare providers from granting access to any hormonal treatment, as well as bans any surgeries which would not align with the assigned. Exceptions to this bill would be children born intersex or if their medical transition began prior to July 1 and ends on or before March 31, 2024.

With the bill passing, and reports of other states following in their footsteps, concerns across campus regarding the rights of transgender people have been brought up.

Students across campus, such as Erin Masters, gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies student , were frustrated with the decision.

“I’m angry because this is violent towards trans people and towards trans youth. I don’t even have the words to articulate all my feelings, this is actively harmful,” said Masters.

Many believe this decision takes away the rights of transgender youth, as well those who don’t conform to the gender norm.

“It’s gender affirming care for the person. The children are the ones who want to go through this procedure so they can match who they are inside,” said Sean Magdaleno, history student .

Though the bill states it targets healthcare providers, many are concerned over how this bill may translate to non-gender conforming people in their day-to-day life.

Panda Rodriguez, electromechanical engineering student, explained how she’s scared over how this bill will affect those within and outside of the transgender community.

“It’s absolutely frightening. The ideologies that they’re deciding to spread, and it’s not just limited to transgender individuals, but it’s also affects everyone how they choose to express themselves outside the gender norms,” said Rodriguez.

While all transgender youth are denied access to gender-affirming healthcare, those whose identities intersect with other minority groups are in a vulnerable position.

Joshua Salazar, the Pride Identity Development and Education coordinator, brought up the struggles of these groups.

“We need to think about how it’s it going to affect trans people of color, specifically, black trans folks that may not have the resources to fight this, may not have the resources to really have their voices heard or articulate their feelings, their emotions, their impact,” said Salazar.

Masters adds onto Salazar’s point by drawing parallels to other decisions taken which target other groups, specifically those who do drag. She explained that by making laws which target transgender youth and drag, it creates an expectation of how people are meant to present themselves.

As for what lies ahead, many seemed hesitant and worried for the future of transgender healthcare, and the LGBTQ+ community at large.

“I feel like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. I feel like with Tennessee, Florida, states like that, have been very adamant about queer erasure, whether that’s in schools, in healthcare or in people’s personal lives. I feel like other states, especially white ruling conservative states are going to follow in their footsteps and make things bad for the queer community,” said Salazar.

Rodriguez concerned over the safety of those in states outside of California. “More people will get hurt more, more kids will get hurt by allowing this to continue to happen. It’s not right,” she said.

After March 31, 2014, if a healthcare provider is found to be in violation of this bill, they will receive a civil penalty up to $25,000, as well as be considered a potential threat to public health.

According to UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, there is an estimated total of 3,100 transgender people under the age of 18. This law would directly impact them and their ability to medically transition in their youth.

While Tennessee is one of the five states to have officially passed laws which limits the ability for transgender persons to transition, there have been over 400 bills introduced across the country which would restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare.

Feature image by Antonia Lopez-Vega

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