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Mar 16, 2023

How to support, protect, and defend LGBTQ+ rights in Tennessee

Feeld stands with the LGBTQ+ community. In this series, we'll be highlighting how to provide support on a local level, beginning in Tennessee.

Earlier this month, the state of Tennessee passed a bill that bans “adult cabaret” from being performed in public, in the presence of children, or within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, and places of worship. The bill specifically calls out “female and male impersonators,” effectively criminalizing drag performers. 

As activists quickly pointed out, this bill is part of a larger attempt to harass and police any type of gender nonconformity.  According to The Human Rights Campaign, Tennessee has enacted more anti-LGBTQ+ laws than any other state in the country. The drag ban joins a recent ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state, and is one of many attacks on LGBTQ+ people, and in particular transgender people, across the United States.

Feeld stands with members of the trans community, and supports the right to be gender nonconforming, and the right to freedom of self-expression, in Tennessee and everywhere. In the coming months, we will be highlighting the work of activists and organizations on the ground. To begin, we reached out to activists in Tennessee to ask them how to best show up and support their work. 

Kayla Gore, co-founder, My Sistah’s House:

“This criminalization sends a clear message to the trans and drag communities: we are not protected and this is not a safe space. But we are stronger together and we will continue to advocate for our human rights. This includes existing without fear.” 

My Sistah’s House provides emergency housing for trans and gender nonconforming people on a temporary basis. Donate here

Chris Sanders, Executive Director, The Tennessee Equality Project:

“The Tennessee Legislature has already passed some horrible bills, but others are still advancing. Every week we post new campaigns at The Tennessee Equality Project’s blog  to show which bills are moving [forward] and how advocates can take action from showing up, calling, and emailing. We guide you through the steps.” 

The Tennessee Equality Project advocates for the equal rights of LGBTQ people in Tennessee through legislative advocacy. Donate here

Joseph Clark, Program Manager, Just Us:

“Be sure to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth too; so many times they are left out of the conversation simply because they are young people and not of voting age, but they will always be directly impacted by any decision that is made for or against them.  Support local agencies, whether financially or through your time, who are serving LGBTQ+ populations. National names will always be in the news first and usually get the celebrity endorsement and backing, but there are incredible local nonprofits in all communities with their boots on the ground and directly serving LGBTQ+ youth day to day. Connect them to local resources. Even with the most supportive and affirming of families, LGBTQ+ youth need to be in space and community with their LGBTQ+ peers.”

Just Us is a group of programs at Oasis Center dedicated to helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth to achieve their full potential. Donate here

Phil Cobucci, President, inclusion tennessee

“First and foremost, we need people showing up to the polls: making sure they’re registered to vote so they can make sure their voices are heard when it comes time for elections. The only way we’re going to be able to create change across the south and across the United States is by voting for people who have our best interests at heart. At inclusion tennessee, we’re focused on equity and justice work. There are a lot of opportunities for volunteering, both virtually and on the ground here in Nashville and throughout the state. Specifically around our advocacy work and engagement, but also around health and wellness programming, and the development of safe spaces throughout the state of Tennessee. 

inclusion tennessee is an equity and justice-oriented organization focused on connecting the multi-faceted LGBTQIA+ community to programs, services and resources throughout Tennessee. Donate here

Laura McGinnis, Sr. Manager of Press & PR, PFLAG National

"Every person, transgender or not, deserves to live with dignity and respect. The laws in Tennessee are making it increasingly difficult for transgender people and their families to do so, and for anyone who cares about the trans people and their families to know how to help. PFLAG Nashville is a great resource for people who are LGBTQ+, [and] parents, families, and allies to learn more and get involved locally, or find a chapter near you and other resources at PFLAG.org."

PFLAG Nashville provides free support for parents, family, and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Donate here

Shelby Chestnut, Executive Director,  Transgender Law Center

"We take care of each other, as we always have. Centering and uplifting trans youth is key to fighting the harmful and violent legislation moving through the country. We can continue to encourage trans youth to build power by giving them the space to make their own decisions. Activate your community, your neighbors, and your families to lend their support in creative and diverse ways. It will take every one of us to create the world we all deserve."

Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures. Donate here

More places to support

Southerners on New Ground

Southerners on New Ground (SONG) builds, sustains, and connects a southern regional base of LGBTQ people in order to transform the region through strategic projects and campaigns. Donate here


OUTMemphis empowers, connects, educates, and advocates for the LGBT community of the Mid-South. Donate here

Campaign for Southern Equality 

Campaign for Southern Equality is working to build a South where LGBTQ people are equal in every part of life. Donate here

Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi

Among their services, Planned Parenthood TNM offers Gender Affirming Hormone Care. Donate here

Check back later for more updates and resources on supporting our communities.

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