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Tipsheet

Federal Judge Strikes Down Tennessee Transgender Bathroom Sign Law

AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File

On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down a law in Tennessee that would have required businesses to post notices on their public restrooms if they allow transgender patrons to use facilities that do not align with their biological sex.

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NBC News reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law on behalf of two business owners in the state, one in Nashville and one in Chattanooga. A U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction against the legislation.

In her 40-page ruling, President Bill Clinton-appointed Judge Aleta Trauger wrote that the law violated the First Amendment because it “compels private speech to which the plaintiffs object.”

“There can be no serious dispute that the Act involves compelled speech. The required signage must be posted on a business owner’s premises. It is directed at the business’s customers and purports to describe the business’s own policy. The business owner is responsible for procuring the sign, adhering to the mandated design, and making sure it remains hanging and visible. In other words, while the message of the sign is one selected by the Tennessee General Assembly, the speaker is the business or other establishment subject to the Act,” Trauger wrote.

Trauger added that the Act is “a brazen attempt to single out trans-inclusive establishments and force them to parrot a message that they reasonably believe would sow fear and misunderstanding about the very transgender Tennesseans whom those establishments are trying to provide with some semblance of a safe and welcoming environment."

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NBC noted that the law required the signage to say “this facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex regardless of the designation on the restroom,” at the entrances of single-sex public restrooms, lockers rooms and dressing areas or other areas where people would have a "reasonable expectation of privacy." The sign must be at least eight inches wide and six inches tall.

Trauger wrote in her ruling that the Act perpetuates the “government’s preferred but unambiguously contested view of how gender works,” since liberal activists push the agenda that gender and biological sex are different from each other.

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