Tennessee becomes first state in 2023 to restrict drag shows

Tennessee is now the first state to restrict drag shows. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill criminalizing “adult cabaret performances” in public spaces or anywhere a minor might be able to see them, CNN reported.

Conservative lawmakers in the state say the shows are inappropriate for children. 

While the law doesn’t mention “drag” shows specifically, it does include “male or female impersonators” in its definition of adult cabaret. 

The law, which also addresses topless and exotic dancers, goes into effect later this year. 

Those found guilty could be charged with a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders could see a felony charge. 

The Human Rights Campaign has said lawmakers’ efforts to ban drag shows are “misconstruing age-appropriate performances.” 

The Tennessee measure is the first of nearly a dozen such bills presently working their way through GOP-led state legislatures. 

Republicans say the performances expose children to sexual themes and imagery that are inappropriate, a claim rejected by advocates, who say the proposed measures are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and could violate First Amendment laws.

But that’s not the only thing Tennessee did.

It became the latest state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. 

Starting in July, doctors will be banned from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones or providing gender-affirming surgery to anyone under 18. 

And kids currently getting treatment will have until the end of March 2024 to stop. 

Now, anyone who breaks the law could reportedly face a $25,000 fine.

The ACLU called the gender-affirming care ban “dangerous” and promised to sue. 

People are accusing Lee of being a hypocrite after an old photo allegedly showing Lee dressed in women’s clothing and wearing a wig resurfaced.

Tennessee is now the eighth state in the country to ban or restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth. And at least eight other Republican states are considering a similar ban on drag shows. 

By one count, there are more than 300 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills being debated this year at the state level. 

It’s got many blaring the alarm on the devastating lasting impacts these laws could have on vulnerable populations.

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