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. The 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 limiting transgender Tennesseans’ access to health care in response to social media posts by Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh. Walsh had previously said online that the clinic “chemically castrates minors,” and other claims by hospital administrators were false.
“We are deeply troubled by the governor’s choice to stigmatize transgender children and their families and by calls for lawmakers to introduce legislation limiting transgender people’s access to health care. Doctors who provide trans youth with this critical care 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. “To trans Tennesseans who see this hateful act and fear it – know that the ACLU-TN will always stand up for the rights of children and families to make informed and safe personal medical decisions. Our priority is to save transgender lives and keep members of our transgender community safe.”
The ACLU-TN claims multiple studies show that providing gender-affirming and supportive care saves young lives by dramatically reducing depression and suicidal thoughts.
When transgender medical care emerged, the ACLU-TN said numerous medical, health and mental health organizations opposed political efforts to block access to recognized medical interventions for trans youth.
“Parents, patients and health care professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of any particular young person,” said ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Cathy Sinback. “Medical and mental health treatment for transgender individuals is guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines as well as existing state law that already regulates health care for trans Tennesseans. Efforts to limit trans Tennesseans’ access to health care are massive government overreach, and the ACLU-TN stands ready to fight back against interference with the personal rights of parents and families to make medical decisions when seeking gender-affirming care.”
The ACLU-TN added that misinformation like recent social media posts has fueled 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 trans Tennesseans, supporting and empowering trans people in Tennessee, and combating dangerous narratives that harm the state’s transgender community.
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