Today the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Subcommittee heard House Bill 1151, which was sponsored by Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), as originally written, would, as GLSEN summarized, "grossly expand the state’s existing indecent exposure law to specifically target and criminalize transgender people, and could affect transgender students in locker rooms, bathrooms, or other school facilities." Ragan, who has sponsored many hate-bills, infamously wrote to a constituent that "a gay person is not a 'mentally healthy adult human being'."

Appearing before the committee, Ragan explained that he was amending the bill to remove some language  and to clarify certain issues. Specifically, the amendment removes the language "is a member of the opposite sex than the sex designated for use" in relation to facilities, as well as the sections about gender dysphoria and "gender confusion."

Shortly Ragan began to explain that the background for the bill was the Obama administrations ruling protecting transgender students and the potential risk to federal funding for schools raised by activists. At this point, a subcommittee member, Rep. Curcio, points out that Ragan's discussion (beginning at 1:45 below) is not relevant to the bill as amended since there is no reference in the bill to policies regarding trans people.

Before Ragan could continue his diatribe, Rep. Andrew Farmer, the chairman of the subcommittee encouraged Ragan to keep his explanations "tight" (2:25) - which seemed to mean not to say something that would be an admission that the true intent of the original bill was to harm the LGBT community and its individual members.

Ultimately, the committee did pass the bill as amended, after a vigorous interrogation of the true motives of, and necessity for, such a bill by Rep. Antonio Parkinson. Representatives Parkinson and Camper would be the sole votes against passing the legislation on to the full committee.

Nevertheless, the activism organized by local groups, particularly the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), does seem to have prevailed, in that one of the most viciously anti-trans laws in the country has been rendered toothless by its own sponsor under public pressure.

Chris Sanders, executive director of TEP, announced this development and thanked those who came out: "Pressure on the bill has certainly had an effect. We're grateful to the group who showed up in red."

Here is the full text of the bill, as amended:

Text of amendment to John Ragan HB 1151

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.

When I was 14 years old, I surreptitiously made my way through the stacks in the local library until I came to the Psychology section. One after one, I took down the books whose titles I thought would provide an answer, went to the table of contents and, if there were any, I flipped to the pictures.

Keep reading Show less

James Mai

Many of us have made resolutions and pledged ourselves to transforming some aspect, or aspects, of our lives. For some, these resolutions will involve career, budget, home ownership, etc., but for a LOT of us, they will involve various health, exercise and fitness goals.

Often, these resolutions are vague, like “lose weight” or “exercise more”, and way too often they begin with a gym contract and end with Netflix and a bag of takeout. Getting specific can help in holding yourself accountable for these commitments, though. So we thought it might be interesting to talk with a local gay trainer, James Mai, about his fitness journey, his work as a trainer and how he keeps himself motivated, and get some of his suggestions for carrying through on this year’s fitness resolutions!

Keep reading Show less


Keep reading Show less