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Tennessee ranks near top for anti-LGBT bills according to HRC

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. —The Human Rights Campaign is pushing for the NCAA to pull tournaments out of Tennessee in response to a series of bills signed into law that target transgender people.

According to HRC, 2021 had the most anti-LGBT bills in recent history and Tennessee ranks near the top.

“You're making it seem like we are a danger when we're not,” said Aislinn Bailey, secretary for Tri-Cities Transgender. “We are the ones in danger in most cases.”

A bill on Gov. Bill Lee's desk would require businesses that allow people to use any bathroom regardless of sex to post a sign at the entrance to the business and the bathrooms. Another bill signed into law requires parent permission to teach any LGBT topics in school.

A third requires students to use the bathroom of their sex at birth or use a single-occupancy bathroom. Another bill would require school athletes to play on the team of their sex assigned at birth.

Gov. Lee said on Facebook the bill would “preserve women's athletics and ensure fair competition.”

But Bailey said, “With this bill, you're going to have trans men, people on testosterone, competing against females. They're actually creating the very situation they say they're trying to stop.”

All of our local state lawmakers either did not respond to our interview request by deadline or said they were too busy.

All but Sen. Jon Lundberg voted for the bills. Lundberg voted for the school sports bill only.

Another bill delayed to 2022, would require three doctors to sign off on hormone therapy for minors.

In July, Tennessee will be the only state that does not allow people to change the sex on their birth certificate pending a lawsuit in court now.

The Tennessee Equality Project lobbied against these and dozens of other bills.

“Multiple bills were moving every single week of the legislative session,” executive director Chris Sanders said. “and that is exhausting to the LGBT community. I can only imagine what trans people are experiencing.”

Bailey worries about the impact on trans youth.

“I kept it hidden,” she said recounting her childhood. “We were a very religious household. I had a lot of self-hatred growing up. Not having that outlet, I've battled depression. I've battled so many things in my life because I could not be the person I wanted to be.”

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