Tennessee bans drag shows, ‘gender-affirming’ procedures, and drugs for minors

by Jacob Fuller

Vicky Arias, FISM News

On Thursday, Tennessee became the first state in the country to ban drag shows from taking place in the presence of minors.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the legislation, which goes into effect on July 1, making it an offense to carry out “adult cabaret performances” where children are in attendance or “on public property.”

“Adult cabaret performances” are defined in the bill as including “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, [and] male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient [or sexual] interest.”

The measure comes as videos show that drag performances with children present are taking place throughout the nation, including drag story hours in public libraries where drag queens read books to children. Additionally, many drag shows that are advertised as “family-friendly” are filled with sexually provocative performances.

While opponents of the bill claim that drag shows aren’t sexual or inappropriate for children, drag shows are typically provocative, sexually-charged expositions that reject gender norms.

Britannica defines “dragging” as a performance “intended to make … [gender] fluidity visible through performance.” A 2016 study of 10 drag performers concluded that “drag performers themselves desire to be … gender and sexually fluid.”

Conservatives have been fighting against these performances with minors present due to the belief that blurred lines of gender fluidity and sexual orientation are inherently too complex for children’s brains to understand.

Scientific research shows that the prefrontal cortex in children is underdeveloped. This part of the brain deals with reasoning and logic, among other things.

In the same way, a child can’t comprehend the long-term consequences of decision-making, they can’t decipher the intended context of a drag show. For this reason, children can’t vote, buy tobacco, or even decide for themselves if they should eat cake or carrots for dinner.

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson explained the protections offered by the new legislation.

“This bill gives confidence to parents that they can take their kids to a public or private show and will not be blindsided by a sexualized performance,” Johnson tweeted yesterday.


In addition to the drag show measure, Gov. Lee signed separate legislation on Thursday preventing medical providers from performing sex-altering surgeries and prescribing cross-sex drugs to minors.

Rep. William Lamberth, a sponsor of the bill, stated that the treatments are dangerous.

“These treatments and procedures have a lifetime of negative consequences that are irreversible,” Lamberth said, according to the Tennessean.

FISM News reported earlier this week that studies have shown that cross-sex hormone therapy has been linked to severe health issues, including stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

The bill, going into effect July 1, also provides an allowance for minors to sue providers who violate the measure by performing banned procedures and prescribing drugs to them and who are “injured as a result.”