Tennessee Lawmakers Put Transgender Bathroom Bill On Hold, Citing Evolving Debate

Mar 7, 2017

A plan to make transgender students use the bathroom of their birth sex has been put on hold — possibly for good.

The move comes amid a rapidly changing legal landscape for transgender people. The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Mark Pody, cited that evolving debate over transgender rights as he withdrew his measure.

"An administration changing. Courts changing. So many things changing, so quickly, it is almost week to week," the Lebanon Republican said. "And in fact things changed this week."

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a Virginia case about transgender rights.

With that in mind, Pody said House Bill 888/Senate Bill 771, which proposes a statewide policy on which facilities transgender students can use, may no longer make sense.

Pody pledged to come up with a proposal that's up to date. It's not clear how long that will take.

But the American Civil Liberties Union's Henry Seaton believes the plan's withdrawal may be a sign state lawmakers are listening to transgender people, including him. Seaton started fighting the bathroom bill last year when he was a high school student in Sumner County. This year, he's been back at the legislature, urging lawmakers to consider the proposal's impact on transgender teens.

"I think Representative Pody saw that and saw these hearts changing," Seaton said. "And that may have encouraged him to take the bill off notice for now, and maybe learn more about what it's like to be a transgender student in Tennessee."