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Gabrielle Union has criticized Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee after the Republican governor signed a bill into law banning gender-affirming health care for minors.
“There is an army that rebukes you, that does not agree with you and that will not lie down while this fascist rule is instituted,” Union told Variety journalist Marc Malkin at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica. “And that’s just one state. There are several states who were doing the same thing, and they will be met with resistance. People are not going to take this lying down. They’re just not. So if you thought this was going to be a cakewalk, you’re in for a rude awakening.”
Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, have become fervent advocates for the LGBTQ community since their 15-year-old daughter Zaya revealed she is transgender.
Lee signed a sweeping ban on gender-affirming health care for transgender children. The bill also restricts “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors” from public venues or spaces that aren’t age-restricted. This includes “male and female impersonators,” including drag queens.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the laws and denounced Lee for not focusing on “the issues that mattered the most.”
“The governor of Tennessee has decided to go after drag shows. What sense does that make to go after drag shows?” she asked during a White House briefing. “How is that going to help people’s lives who are thinking about the economy, who are thinking about making sure their kids are going to be safe when they go to school or their communities are safe? But that’s what he wants to focus on.”
Following the signing of the bill, the Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page advertisement in The Tennessean Tuesday, publishing the 1977 yearbook photo of Lee in the cheerleading uniform. “This kid enjoyed drag. Guess what happened to him?” the advertisement reads. “He’s our governor.” The Human Rights Campaign said they aimed to “illuminate both the hypocrisy of the governor’s actions and the urgent need for Tennesseans to push back against the continued legislative assault on LGBTQ+ people.”