Rainbow Cafe condemns new Tennessee laws, calls for support

People protesting in support of transgender people in Nashville, Tenn. Photo from Facebook

The Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center in Carbondale has condemned new Tennessee bills that criminalizes gender-affirming care for transgender youth and drag shows.

LGBTQ Nation reported that the H.B. 1 would give trans youth till next March to detransition. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has said he supports the law.

H.B. 1 bans treatments like puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy for people under the age of 18. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both said that puberty blockers are safe and standard care for trans youth.

H.B. 9 would ban all drag shows in the state. The ACLU is planning to sue.

Both bills will become law even if the governor doesn’t sign them, the news website reported.

The Rainbow Cafe responded because by being in far Southern Illinois, they are closer to Tennessee than they are to most of Illinois. Memphis is a three-hour drive from Carbondale while the Illinois capital of Springfield is four hours away. Chicago is an eight-hour drive from Carbondale. The culture in Southern Illinois also overlaps with that in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Carbondale has already become a destination for people from Tennessee needing abortion care with Memphis-based CHOICES opening a clinic in the city.

“It’s not, nor has it ever been, a coincidence – anti-drag bills are anti-trans bills and they go hand-in-hand,” the community center said in Facebook post. “HB 9 is intentionally worded vaguely to ban ‘male or female impersonators’ in public and intentionally makes no distinction between drag performers and transgender people and would charge felonies for just existing. It’s also a direct attack on Pride – once signed, it will go into effect just before most Pride celebrations begin and will outlaw public performances.”

The Rainbow Cafe is calling on people to support the community in Tennessee:

1. Donate to LGBTQ nonprofits in Tennessee like OUTMemphis and the Oasis Center. They provide services to LGBTQ people in Memphis and Nashville and beyond.

2. Keep an eye on CHOICES. The Carbondale location will begin providing gender-affirming HRT services and puberty blockers beginning Feb. 28. CHOICES already has a volunteer network for those wanting to assist those traveling to Southern Illinois for services like trans-affirming care and abortion access like ARC Southeast and the Midwest Access Coalition.

3. Support the Tennessee ACLU. They will be fighting these laws in court.