Over the past month, our community has watched Tennessee put into law unprecedented, comprehensive practices to restrict and humiliate trans individuals. Tennessee now bears a blanket ban of trans youth in school sports; regulatory measures for gender-affirming healthcare; and required, state-written signage regarding biological sex at certain public restrooms. Our state boasts one of the broadest scopes of new state-level anti-LGBTQ+ laws this year. As we consider the breadth and volume of this year’s successful hate agenda, we urge our city to understand that regulations around healthcare, bathrooms, and sports will fracture the privacy, wellness, fellowship, and joy that these intimate spaces are supposed to foster for everyone. These legislative attacks serve to bring our government into those intimate spaces, and we must acknowledge the dangerous history this invasiveness has had for all marginalized groups.To play out a political maneuver in such spaces is to build fear in places designed for safety.
Many have spoken out in favor of the anti-trans athlete bill in the service of “preserving women’s sports,” as though trans girls are here to infiltrate. Not only does this perpetuate harmful fallacies that trans people are deceptive and dishonest, but there is also no anecdotal or scientific data that supports the need for this legislation. It plays on the general population’s misconceptions of what it means to be transgender in order to create fear and opposition to an issue that doesn’t exist.
Discussions around these laws distract from the fact that these are children and teens. Children and teens that are just trying to participate in the same activities as their peers and have a normal school experience. Team sports and other extra-curricular activities provide opportunities for building community and social support for young people. Barring trans youth from participation not only deprives them of these essential opportunities but can also cause them to be forcibly outed. Trans youth already experience a disproportionate amount of bullying in school from their peers, they don’t need to also experience it from adults in power. What trans youth need from laws, communities, and leadership is the protection of equal access to school programming, life-saving healthcare, and the protection of environments where they can thrive.
Now that these bills have been signed into law, the hard work of coping and supporting comes into play. It’s our turn as community members, participants, volunteers and donors to do that work. Even in the face of these life-threatening laws, there is no limit to the work we can do. Educate yourself and the people around you about trans rights and trans issues. For queer, cisgender individuals, this legislation is a call to action, a call to the sort of allyship we have taught to others for many decades.
OUTMemphis provides name/ID change facilitation and funds, which you can access here, or donate to make this resource available. You can find emergency housing, donate, or volunteer, with My Sistah’s House, which provides services for trans and GNC people of color. You can support state-level social services like WeCareTN or you can donate to the Tennessee Equality Project, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and other agencies which will take on the difficult work of dismantling this legislation.
To the trans youth who follow us, who participate in our youth groups, or come to queer youth field day, we want to hear from you. We want to hear your troubles, help you navigate hard conversations and find needed resources. We want to educate your teachers, coaches, and principals so you don’t have to. We will never stop supporting your right to exist and thrive, and will continue to serve as a safe space in tumultuous times.
To the businesses seeking clarification on the new business bathroom law, we want to hear from you about what kind of training or information you would utilize if available.
For more information on the terms of each law and how its enforced, please contact our partners at the Tennessee Equality Project.
Let’s get to work.
Trans Services Manager
Molly Rose Quinn