NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee condemned Governor Bill Lee and other politicians Thursday after they called for an investigation into the transgender health care practices at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The ACLU-TN also started a statewide education service to provide Tennesseans with information about transgender health care.
Gov. Lee said he plans to introduce legislation limiting transgender Tennesseans’ access to health care in response to posts on social media by Matt Walsh, a columnist with the Daily Wire. Walsh had previously said online that the clinic “chemically castrates minors,” and other claims hospital administrators are false.
“We’re deeply disturbed by the governor’s choice to stigmatize transgender children and their families and legislators’ calls to introduce legislation restricting trans people’s access to health care. The doctors that provide trans youth with this critical care are saving lives. They support children and their families by allowing them to thrive, and these professionals are nothing short of heroes,” said Henry Seaton, ACLU-TN transgender justice advocate. “For the trans Tennesseans who see this hateful action and are fearful because of it – know that ACLU-TN will always advocate for the rights of children and families to make informed and safe private medical decisions. It is our priority to save trans lives and keep our trans community members safe.”
ACLU-TN argued that multiple studies have shown that providing gender-affirming and supportive care saves young people’s lives by dramatically reducing depression and suicidal thoughts.
When transgender medical care has come up, ACLU-TN said numerous medical, health, and mental health organizations have spoken in opposition to the political efforts to block access to recognized medical interventions for trans youth.
“Parents, patients, and medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of any particular young person,” said ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Kathy Sinback. “Medical and mental health treatment for transgender individuals is guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines, as well as an existing state law that already regulates health care for trans-Tennesseans. Efforts to restrict trans Tennesseans’ access to health care is vast government overreach, and ACLU-TN stands ready to fight back against intrusions into the private medical decision-making rights of parents and families when seeking gender-affirming care.”
ACLU-TN added that misinformation like the recent social media posts had fueled attacks on trans children and adults from state legislatures across the country. Last year alone, Tennessee legislators introduced fourteen anti-trans bills.
The new program launched by the ACLU-TN, TRANScend Tennessee, is statewide community education, engagement, and empowerment initiative. The program’s goals include educating the general public about the lives of Tennesseans who are trans, supporting and empowering trans people in Tennessee, and combatting dangerous narratives that harm the transgender community in the state.
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