Tennessee drag ban: Why has the state banned drag performers and what does the law say?
Tennessee has become the first American state to ban drag shows in public spaces.
Last week, Governor Bill Lee signed the bill. Under the new law, such performances won’t be allowed anywhere a minor might see them.
The new law came amid attacks by Republicans on the rights of transgender and LGBTQ Americans across the country.
Lee also signed a separate bill, which limits transgender children's access to care that is affirming of their gender. In the US, Tennessee is the eighth state to ban such care.
After March 31, 2024, persons who are now getting medical care, such as hormone-replacement therapy and puberty blockers, will no longer be able to receive it due to the ban on gender-affirming care, which will go into force on July 1.
Why has Tennessee banned drag performances?
The performance of “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” in public or in front of children is now prohibited by Tennessee law.
Trans supporters have emphasised that the ban is scheduled to take effect on April 1 this year, a few months before Pride celebrations. Although it is unclear how the law will be applied, people who break it will face criminal penalties.
According to the law’s authors, drag performances in public spaces are “harmful to minors”. But organisers say the shows are not sexually explicit.
Tate Britain protest
Over in the UK, although no laws are in place prohibiting drag performances, last month a protest was held outside of Tate Britain while the gallery was hosting a drag queen storytelling event for children.
Writing on Twitter, drag queen Aida H Dee said the day had been “proper emotional”, adding that five protesters had gained entry to the Tate and “caused a disruption” in parts of the building, but they did not affect the readings.
What has the trans community had to say?
Trans activist Munroe Bergdorf has spoken out against the drag bans.
On Instagram, she posted, “A little reminder that these drag bans and protests are inherently linked to the ongoing war on transgender people, specifically transgender youth.
“Whilst they are an attack on the LGBTQIA community at large, it is specifically about upholding traditional GENDER ideals.
“These fascists do not care about the difference bewteen a gay man in drag and or a trans woman living her life.
“This is about upholding cisgender heteronormative ideology, which is oppressive to both LGB and transgender people.”
She said: “Banning drag means they can target anyone they interpret as doing drag.
“Which means that trans people who do not fit within the visual ideas and standards of cisgender womanhood or manhood will be singled out.
“There is not LGB without the T, our rights and freedoms are linked. Their plan is to get rid of all of us under the guise of ‘protecting the children’.
“We cannot let them divide us. We must fight this TOGETHER.”