MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Tennessee are outraged by the state legislature.
Two bills targeting their community are on its way to Governor Bill Lee.
The first bill is the anti-drag bill that would ban drag shows that are considered sexually explicit from public spaces and places where minors are present. The second bill would ban some gender-affirming healthcare for minors such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers.
“We should have rights, but it’s going past us fighting for our rights. It’s us fighting for our own day to day experiences,” said Jasmine Tasaki, We Care Tennessee Founder and Director.
The organization is a nonprofit advocating for transgender and LGBTQ+ individuals.
“People who are transgender, we live in fear all the time,” Tasaki said.
That fear has only increased as Tennessee legislators have passed two bills targeting the LGBTQ plus community, according to Tasaki.
"They could be walking down the street — if they are deemed to be in drag or being flamboyant, they could be arrested just for being themselves," Tasaki said.
For the anti-drag bill, a first offense would be a misdemeanor crime, and a subsequent offense would be a felony carrying a sentence of between one and six years in prison.
If the bill relating to gender-affirming healthcare bill becomes law, it would officially take effect this summer and give existing patients until March 31, 2024 to stop treatment.
“Folks in our communities, especially in younger generations are now feeling like they can be authentic of who they are, and when folks are authentic, they have the ability to have bodily autonomy,” Tasaki said.
Phil Cobucci helps run Inclusion Tennessee. Cobucci said the state of Tennessee continues to mistreat the LGBTQ community.
"Since 2015, we have actually had the most anti LGBTQ bills in the entire United States that have passed," Cobucci said. "We are a state that continually says to a minority population in this state, that you are not welcomed, that you are not wanted."
That feeling of rejection is what many in the LGBTQ community have been fighting against for centuries.
"The reality is is that we are not we are not going anywhere," Cobucci said. "We've always been here. We're not a new population. We haven't come out of we didn't we didn't just appear after Stonewall in 1969. We've been here we continue to live authentically in our truth."
Another concern is the "gender-to-prison pipeline." Tasaki said bills like the two passed can cause more transgender people to end up in jail at some point in their lives.
“We’ve supported so many movements from so many different communities. It’s time for people to stand up for us and support us in those same ways,” said Tasaki said.