Dozens of new laws went into effect yesterday, July 1, 2021, in Tennessee. Amazingly, letting anyone just carry a gun isn't the most far-right of those bills, which include a series of five repressive new anti-LGBTQ+ bills. With three of the five bills targeting transgender youth and one impacting transgender adults - with an abnormal focus on transgender bathroom bills to restrict access to restrooms and public accommodations - this year's focus was clear.

A quick run-down of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill laws that are now in effect:

  • HB1182 - anti-trans bathroom bill requiring businesses to post signs if they allow trans people to use the appropriate facilities
  • SB228 - forcing trans kids to participate in sports according to gender assigned at birth
  • SB1229 - restricting education about any topic adjacent to LGBTQ+ issues
  • SB126 - restricting medical care for trans youth
  • HB1233 - limiting bathroom/locker room access for trans youth

Photos courtesy of Shawn Reilly

A group of activists gathered outside the governor's mansion yesterday to make their feelings known about the new laws. Taking their lead from the potty fetishes of Tennessee lawmakers, toilets and urine became key symbols in the protest. A throne of lies with a toilet seat was set up for the governor, toilets became messaging vehicles, and very yellow lemonade sent clear a message.

Activist Shawn Reilly explained, "With Tennessee's transphobic laws going into effect on July 1st, we could not just stand by and let them stand without resistance. These attacks on transgender people, particularly transgender youth, are immoral and unjust. We must work together to resist these bad bills in all forms - from testifying at Cordell Hull to dancing in the street in front of the governors mansion."

Individual businesses like Margot Cafe & Bar have signaled support for the transgender community as the new bathroom bill has gone into effect.

Legal challenges are already proceeding to mitigate the damage these laws will do to LGBTQ+ people - and youth in particular. For instance, Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records in Nashville, joined LGBTQ organizations to file a federal lawsuit against the State of Tennessee over House Bill 1182. Nevertheless, as long as Tennessee continues to uphold such laws and further restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ restrictions, we can expect such protests to continue and expand.

Governor Lee's official state portrait? Photo courtesy of Shawn Reilly

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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