US governor set to 'ban' drag acts is pictured dressed as woman

A photo showing Tennessee governor Bill Lee dressed as a woman has emerged, despite him being poised to approve a law criminalising some drag acts.

He was asked if he remembered the picture, which surfaced on Reddit, when he visited a school on Monday.

"What a ridiculous, ridiculous question that is," he responded.

"Conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject."

Mr Lee did not confirm or deny it was him in the photo - which appears to show a man dressed as a cheerleader with a wig and necklace, apparently from a 1977 high school yearbook.

The Republican governor has said he intends to approve laws, passed last week by state legislators, which would criminalise drag performances in public and in front of children.

It restricts "adult cabaret performances" - defined as "topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers..."

Critics say it unfairly targets LGBTQ+ people and culture, and implies all drag is obscene and sexualised.

They also argue it is unnecessary, as Tennessee already bans obscenity in front of minors.

The state is set to become the first to pass such a law, but opponents fear others will follow.

"The ultimate goal is the public erasure of LGBTQ people," said Stella Yarbrough, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

Supporters, however, say the legislation is necessary to protect children from sexualised entertainment.

After his remarks to reporters, Mr Lee's office issued a statement.

It said: "The bill specifically protects children from obscene, sexualized entertainment, and any attempt to conflate this serious issue with light-hearted school traditions is dishonest and disrespectful to Tennessee families."

The governor is also set to sign off on another law that will ban transgender minors from getting treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery.