NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Daily Wire host Matt Walsh testified before a Tennessee House committee and sparred with Democrat lawmakers Wednesday as a bill that would ban sex-change treatments on minors makes its way through the legislature.
Walsh spoke in front of the House Health Committee at the Cordell Hull Building on House Bill 1, a bill introduced by Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth that would prohibit so-called gender transition medications and surgeries on minors.
“We should be able to agree that it is never OK to chemically castrate, sterilize, butcher, or mutilate a child. And in fact, all decent people do agree on this point,” Walsh said during his testimony. “But many of the people who hold power in this country and who run our institutions — including our medical institutions — do not pass this basic test of decency.”
Walsh then said that it did not make sense for children, who are not allowed to do things like purchase firearms or get tattoos, to be able to make such impactful decisions. He added that “children were being coerced into making decisions” that they were not equipped to make.
The bill was introduced following an investigation by Walsh that revealed that the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) had performed double mastectomies on minors. VUMC paused all such surgeries in October 2022 after an inquiry from Republican lawmakers.
Democrat Caleb Hemmer asked Walsh about a remark he once made that has been construed as saying 16-year-olds are adults. Walsh responded by saying that wasn’t an accurate reflection of what he said.
“I’m just curious about your definition – if people are adults at 16 – ” Hemmer replied.
Walsh stated that 18 is the legal age of adulthood, but noted that people’s brains typically are not fully developed until age 25.
“So we should be having a conversation about whether we should be doing these surgeries on people at 18, but certainly before 18 it’s absurd,” Walsh said, before turning the question back to Hemmer.
“Do you think that a 16-year-old can meaningfully consent to having their body parts removed?” Walsh asked to silence. “Do you? No?”
Tennessee lawmakers also heard testimony from other witnesses, including those opposed to the bill. The bill ultimately advanced and could soon go before the full House and Senate.
Lamberth introduced the bill, called the Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act, in November alongside Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. The bill would effectively bar doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and from performing gender-related surgeries on minors for the purpose of medical transition. It would also allow patients and their families to sue doctors for damages and let the courts impose an additional $25,000 penalty for each violation.
“This bill is about protecting children,” said Johnson. “Under no circumstances should minors be allowed to undergo irreversible elective procedures to mutilate body parts and intentionally harm their reproductive systems. This practice comes with lifelong health complications that children are not capable of understanding.”
The bill’s progression through both chambers of the Tennessee legislature comes after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee promised to end the life-altering procedures on children.
“We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children. With the partnership of the General Assembly, this practice should end in Tennessee,” Lee said in October.
Despite Democratic opposition, the bill is expected to pass as both the House and the Senate are easily controlled by Republicans.