In keeping with Johnson's campaign promise to "preserve Tennessee conservative values," the bill would ban "medical procedures that alter a minor's hormonal balance, remove a minor's sex organs, or otherwise change a minor's physical appearance" for the purposes of "enabling the minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor's sex."
These procedures and medical interventions were recognized in the bill as harmful because they can "lead to the minor becoming irreversibly sterile, having increased risk of disease and illness, or suffering from adverse and sometimes fatal psychological consequences."
Extra to the irreversible harm that so-called "gender-affirming" mutilations inflict on young patients, the bill's authors further noted that such destructive procedures targeting minors are also experimental and "not supported by high-quality, long-term medical studies."
Johnson and Lamberth's bill alleges that Dr. John Money, "one of the earliest advocates for performing or administering such medical procedures on minors and a founder of the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, abused minors entrusted to his care, resulting in the suicides of David and Brian Reimer."
In addition to tackling alleged child abuse by individuals such as Money, the bill is meant to address institutional exploitation.
It is clear from the bill that "the same pharmaceutical companies that contributed to the opioid epidemic," now peddling sterilizing hormones to children, and profit-minded organizations that administer the procedures (e.g., Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi), are similarly in the legislature's crosshairs.
If the bill is made law, then health care providers would be barred from performing, administering, or offering to perform such medical procedures on minors with identity confusion or gender dysphoria. Each violation would be met with a $25,000 penalty, and health care providers found in violation can be held accountable "within 20 years of the violation."
The bill would also enable children to bring civil cases against parents if their parents consented on their behalf.
WTVF reported that Johnson regarded this bill as so important as to make it the first for the 2023 legislative session.
"We love these kids, we want them to get the care that they need. What we don't want to do, though, is to do irreparable damage to their bodies that can’t be undone. That’s a decision that should be left to someone who is an adult," said Johnson.
According to WTVF, a video posted by conservative columnist Matt Walsh was part of what motivated Johnson and Lamberth to write the bill with Walsh's help.
Walsh tweeted on Wednesday, "We're full steam ahead here in Tennessee. Today the Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act was officially filed. It will ban the mutilation and drugging of gender-confused children and provide victims the right to sue for damages. We're still getting wins on the board."
"We're playing offense here," Walsh added in a subsequent tweet.
Keeping public spaces grooming-free
Senate Bill 3, also sponsored by Johnson, amends state law to make it an offense for a person to engage in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the performance could be viewed by children.
An adult cabaret performance was defined to mean "a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers."
First-time offenders would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Reoffenders will be charged with a Class E felony.
Newsweek reported that reoffenders charged accordingly could face six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.
Johnson noted that he is proud of the legislation, tweeting, "I’ll always stand up for TN kids and ensure our communities are safe for TN families."