NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign into law a bill to ban children’s transgender therapy.
The decision will come as the bill passed the Tennessee House along near-party lines—three Democrats voted for it: Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), Rep. Joe Towns, Jr. (D-Memphis) and Rep. Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga).
“It’s heartbreaking,” Theo Cagwin said. “It’s just heartbreaking, that’s the only word for it.”
Cagwin is transgender, something they reconciled mentally well before they socially transitioned at age 16.
“I was suicidal during my early teen years, and it was because I was trans and wasn’t able to come out and be who I really was,” Cagwin said.
They were blunt when asked how different things may be if transgender therapy wasn’t available. “I would probably not be here today,” Cagwin said.
Still, Republicans pressed forward, maintaining the bill will protect children.
“Here in Tennessee, we’re going to protect our children,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) said. “The vote on the floor today was extremely strong.”
Lamberth said the state will not allow “quack doctors” to come into Tennessee for transgender therapy.
“I hate to disparage them, but it’s not following the science. A double mastectomy is never a good thing to do for a child that is going through body dysphoria or gender dysphoria,” he said. “If an adult wants to get that type of procedure done, they’re an adult. They can do whatever they want to.”
Throughout the process of the bill’s journey, some Democrats proposed amendments to the bill to only allow it to include transgender surgery or to ban all plastic surgeries except in the case of emergencies. Those amendments fell on deaf ears.
“God gave us science. God gave us brains to figure it out. So, one of us is wrong,” Candace Winters Johnson said. “Either God is on their side or God is on our side, and they’re not even trying to meet us in the middle.”
Johnson is a mother of a transgender child.
Regardless, the bill won’t affect Cagwin, who is now older than 18. But for the people who come after, it could be different.
“If you want your children to survive,” Cagwin said, “you’re going to let them be who they really are.”