Bill Defining Sex as Biological Gender Passes Tennessee Senate, Moves to House
Tennessee lawmakers are deliberating a bill that would define male and female in state law based on a person’s biological sex at birth.
The proposed law would require government-issued IDs to “accurately reflect” the sex marker of a person’s original birth certificate.
Tennessee Senate Bill 1440 would create a new subsection in the state’s legal code to clearly define a person’s “immutable” biological sex determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.
The bill also proposes to amend a section of the state’s legal code relating to the education system to align the definition with the proposed new subsection.
The bill is sponsored by Republican state Sen. Kerry Roberts and passed the Tennessee Senate in a vote along party lines on Monday. The measure will now go to the GOP-controlled state House.
If passed, the measure would require government-issued IDs to “accurately reflect” a person’s sex as stated on their birth certificate. Effectively, this would block transgender people from changing those IDs to match their self-identified gender.
Tennessee is one of the only three states, alongside Montana and Ohio, with policies in place that restrict amending the sex marker on birth certificates.
Further, approximately 12 states have adopted policies that allow for a gender-neutral or gender X designation to be included on birth certificates.
If the Tennessee Assembly passes the measure, it would take effect on July 1, 2023.
A fiscal memorandum released on Feb. 28 found that while the bill’s precise fiscal impact can’t be determined, the proposed language could result in increased state and local expenditures and jeopardize federal funding.
According to the memo (pdf), defining “sex” for overall use in the Tennessee legal code could impact several state departments that operate with previous definitions of the term.
The Tennessee Department of Health (DOH) has warned that certain federal programs, such as Title X family planning and other federal grant programs, use the federal government’s definition.
The federal government, under Title IX discrimination laws, adopts a definition of sex and gender that includes a person’s chosen gender identity.
The Biden administration has previously threatened to remove funding from institutions that don’t comply with its definition. However, the fiscal memo stated that the precise amount of funds potentially in jeopardy could not be reasonably determined.
The fiscal memo states that the Tennessee Department of Education (DOE) claims the new definitions could impact approximately 20 parts of the code applicable, but not limited to, DOE curriculum, general administration of schools, athletic participation, and local school board policies.
The provisions of the legislation could also create legal risks and jeopardize federal funding awards from programs resulting in an estimated loss of nearly $1.3 billion for fiscal year 23–24.
DOH receives over $750 million in federal grant funding that may be withheld if the state is found out of compliance with federal requirements.
It is still unclear what impact the proposed legislation will have, but it is evident that there will be potential consequences for both the state and its citizens.
The Epoch Times contacted Roberts for comment.