In the wave of the wokeness being forced on our nation by liberal elites, Tennessee continues to be an exemplary state in lessons on how to fight back. A new bill making its way through the Tennessee House would classify drag shows as a form of ‘adult-oriented business’ and would therefore prohibit them from being operated within 1,000 feet of public property. The bill would also stop topless dancers, strippers, and exotic dancers from being able to perform in public events, restricting them to only be allowable in 18+ venues. Many from the LGBT community have been critical of the bill, claiming it is a form of anti-LGBT expression and a way of oppressing the community. Many in support of the bill, however, have been rightfully critical of the LGBT community and its attempts to expose young children to open and blatant, promiscuous sexual behavior in public.
By Josh Milton; February 24, 2023
Tennessee is on track to become not only the first US state to ban drag shows but also the latest to ban healthcare for trans youth.
House Republicans passed joint anti-LGBTQ+ legislation yesterday which, if signed by the governor, would make Tennessee the first state to criminalise drag shows.
Plunging the southern state into the dark ages, Senate Bill 3 will prevent ‘adult-oriented businesses’ from operating within 1,000 feet of public property such as schools, parks or places of worship.
Legislators ensured this applies to LGBTQ+ events and spaces by banning drag performances, which they vaguely define as ‘male or female impersonators.’
A summary of the bill, categorised under ‘Obscenity and Pornography’, says: ‘As introduced, creates an offence for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.’
It also bans, as the bill puts it, ‘topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers (and) strippers … who provide adult entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest’.
This means all so-called ‘adult-oriented’ entertainment will only be allowed to operate in 18+ venues.
The drag ban was proposed by Republican State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson in November.
He said in a statement: ‘It gives confidence to parents that they can take their kids to a public or private show and will not be blindsided by a sexualized performance.’
Johnson’s measure passed in the upper chamber in a 26-6 vote earlier this month, with the House voting in favour 74-19 yesterday.
The proposal will now return to the Senate for a procedural concurrence before heading to Republican Governor Bill Lee’s desk for final approval.
Lee has a track record of passing anti-trans laws.
Republican Rep Chris Todd, who also sponsored the anti-trans healthcare bill, said he was driven to author the drag ban to put a stop to a local ‘family-friendly’ drag show from taking place in a park.
Jackson Pride was toe-to-toe with Rep Todd in court last year after the city’s Pride organisers wanted to host a family-friendly drag show in the Jackson Pride’s third annual celebration, which was originally going to be held in Conger Park.
Rep Todd claimed the show teaching children about kindness and diversity would have amounted to ‘child abuse’ and that his bill is a ‘common-sense, child safety bill’.
Alongside the drag ban, the companion House Bill 9 will stop doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy to trans young people.
Every major medical organisation in the US has backed calls for gender-affirming care for trans minors.
One study found trans youth with access to gender-affirming medical treatments are less likely to experience depression and anxiety and consider suicide.
While researchers found trans young people who could undergo hormone therapy were happier, more satisfied with their lives and more confident.
Since 2015, Tennessee has passed more anti-LGBTQ+ laws than any other state in the country.
So activists weren’t exactly surprised by the pair of bills passing as they called on the governor to reject the ‘harmful’ laws.
Given the drag ban’s wording, legislative researcher Erin Reed tweeted: ‘Transgender people and drag artists dancing in a Pride parade could be considered criminal.
‘Cops could begin arresting people at pride events in Tennessee for being “male or female impersonators” dancing down the street as so many of us have seen and partaken in.’
Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said: ‘These extremist lawmakers have intentionally made life harder and more dangerous for trans kids.’
Kasey Suffredini, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention group, added: ‘Politicians have no business deciding these personal matters by enforcing blanket bans that defy professional guidance from every major medical and mental health association in the country.’
Both bills come amid a barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation pushed by Republicans over the last few years.
The start of the 2023 legislative season has seen more than 340 bills that seek to, among other things, restrict the sports teams, bathrooms and healthcare trans young people can use.
Some legislation would force teachers to deadname and misgender their trans students and even out them to their families.
At least 58,200 trans youth were at risk of losing access to gender-affirming healthcare due to GOP-led attempts to ban such treatments, according to a 2022 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Drag shows, in particular, have become the new battleground for Republicans and right-wing pundits.
There are at least 26 proposed bills that take aim at drag nationwide right now, according to legislative trackers.
In states up and down the US, drag events – from brunches to kids’ reading sessions – have also been threatened with violence in recent years.
The Proud Boys, a violent far-right nationalist group, have protested and barged into Drag Queen Story Hour events at libraries in front of children.
Sab Samuel, who runs Drag Queen Story Hour UK as Aida H Dee, has seen his events in Britain similarly demonstrated against by far-right groups.
‘Drag Queen Story Hour is more than just a bit of fun, it’s gender-affirming care and a highway for queer kids to get a role model they’ve been denied for years!’ Samuel told Metro.co.uk.
‘Drag Queen Story Hour UK are aware that the USA have no say on UK laws, but that does not mean these laws won’t find their way into the UK, especially with the current government we have today.
‘If the government we have in power in the UK today remains in power much longer, I predict the same laws coming to the UK.’
Photo: FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts