Tennessee now has a hate crime statute protecting transgender people, according to an opinion Republican state Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued earlier this month.
Slatery wrote this opinion responding to a question from State Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.
Tennessee’s statute protecting transgender people is the first such one in the South, according to The Tennessean.
Slatery’s spokeswoman, Samantha Fisher, said Monday she had no comment.
“We have nothing more to add to the opinion issued to Rep. Stewart February 8th which can be found on our website,” Fisher told The Tennessee Star.
According to the state attorney general’s website, the end of that opinion says the following:
For purposes of the hate-crime enhancement, a crime committed against a person because that person manifests a gender that is different than his or her biological gender at birth—i.e. a crime committed against a person because he or she is transgender—is thus necessarily committed because of, at least in part, the person’s gender.
Members of the Family Action Council of Tennessee condemned Slatery’s opinion.
According to Factn’s website, the organization fights for religious liberty.
“In arriving at this conclusion, the attorney general ignored the fundamental canon of statutory construction that courts are ‘to give words the meaning they had at the time the document was adopted,’” according to Factn.
“Eighteen years ago, no legislator (FACT’s president being one of them) thought they were codifying the unfamiliar modern concept of ‘transgenderism.’ ‘Transgenderism’ back then would have been considered the medical condition known as gender dysphoria.”
According to The Tennessean, “Tennessee does not have an explicit hate crime charge, though the General Assembly in 2000 added a hate crime factor to judges’ sentencing rules for crimes targeting a person based on race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry or gender.”
“Slatery’s decision affirms that transgender individuals should be covered under the existing law, but must still be tested in court in a case involving bias against a transgender victim,” The Tennessean said.
“Stewart sought clarification from Slatery on whether transgender people would be covered after a discussion last year in a Senate committee regarding a bill filed by Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, to add gender identity and expression to Tennessee’s hate crime sentencing law.”