The Tennessee Legislature on Thursday gave final approval to a law banning transgender sex change procedures for children.

Having passed the Tennessee Senate last week, the bill will now advance to Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. Three Democrats joined Republicans to pass the measure in the Tennessee House in a 77-16 vote.

The bill was sponsored by majority leaders Sen. Jack Johnson and Rep. William Lamberth.

Jade Byers, Lee’s press secretary, told CNA that “the governor appreciates the work of Leader Johnson and Leader Lamberth to protect children and intends to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.”

After it is signed into law, the bill will take effect July 1, 2023, and prohibit sex change surgeries, the use of puberty blockers, and hormone therapies on children under the age of 18.

The law will further allow the state attorney general to investigate doctors and providers and impose a $25,000 penalty on violators of the statute.

“A violation of this bill’s prohibitions concerning medical procedures constitutes a potential threat to public health, safety, and welfare and requires emergency action by an alleged violator’s appropriate regulatory authority,” the bill reads.

Additionally, the bill allows parents who did not consent to the procedures and their children to sue providers if there was an injury or death brought about by the transgender treatment they received.

Parents who consented to sex change procedures can also be sued by their children for injuries sustained due to the treatments.

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“Children do not need these medical procedures to be able to flourish as adults,” Lamberth said. “They need mental health treatment. They need love and support, and many of them need to be able to grow up to become the individuals that they were intended to be.”

An exception included in the law allows providers who began sex change procedures before July 1, 2023, to continue those procedures until March 31, 2024.

Rick Musacchio, executive director of the Tennessee Catholic Conference, the Tennessee bishops’ public policy voice, told CNA that though they did not take a formal position on the bill they advised members of the Legislature of the Church’s teaching on the issue.

“[We] made it clear that Catholic teaching on the human person and the importance of the human body is very different from the dominant view in popular culture, which reduces the person to ‘will’ or desire and treats the body as a thing to be used,” Musacchio said.

Musacchio added that “the permanent effects of the treatments and scarcity of objective study of their long-term outcomes make limits to the treatment of minors appropriate.”

The debate over transgender procedures on children renewed in Tennessee after a video surfaced in 2022 of a Vanderbilt University Medical Center official pushing for increased use of such procedures because they are “huge moneymakers.”

Matt Walsh, a Catholic Tennessean and popular Daily Wire podcast host, decried Vanderbilt University’s transgender policy and has been a major advocate for the bill banning sex change procedures for children.

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“Vanderbilt got into the gender transition game admittedly in large part because it is very financially profitable,” Walsh said. “They now castrate, sterilize, and mutilate minors as well as adults, while apparently taking steps to hide this activity from the public view. This is what ‘health care’ has become in modern America.”

Walsh celebrated the bill’s passage, saying, “The Tennessee Legislature has now passed the bill banning child mutilation in the state. We’re fighting. We’re winning. And we aren’t even close to done … We were way behind when we started so there’s a lot of ground to cover, but momentum is on our side.”

But not all Tennesseans were as enthusiastic about the bill’s success.

“We have taken away a woman’s right to determine her health care and her health outcomes, and now we’ve gone to children. If a doctor and a family feels that taking hormone blockers is going to be healthy and productive and lifesaving for these children, that’s a decision that should be made,” Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) has vowed to sue the state if the bill is signed into law.

“All Tennesseans should have access to the health care they need to survive and thrive,” ACLU-TN attorney Lucas Cameron-Vaughn said Thursday. “Gender-affirming health care for trans youth is safe, necessary, effective, and often lifesaving. Legislators are risking trans young people’s health, well-being, and safety with this dangerous legislation.”

ACLU-TN also attacked another bill passed by the Tennessee House the same day that bans drag shows from public property and venues where children may be present.