Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee quietly signs bans on drag shows, gender-affirming health care

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee
(Image credit: Jason Davis/Getty Images)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed bills Thursday that ban gender-affirming health care for minors and "adult-oriented" performances by "male or female impersonators" in public spaces or events where children may be present. The bills were fast-tracked by the state legislature's Republican supermajority, over objections from medical groups, LGBTQ advocates, and civil libertarians. "Lee signed off on the legislation without issuing a statement or having a public ceremony," The Associated Press reports.

The gender-affirming care law bans medications like puberty blockers and hormones for any form of gender dysphoria, as well as surgeries, which are rare in Tennessee, The Tennesseean reports. Minors taking those medications have until March 31, 2024, to stop. The Tennessee chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which had urged Lee not to sign the bill, said gender-affirming care "can be lifesaving" and this ban "interferes with the physician-patient relationship and parental choice."

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