U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn headlines anti-transgender rally in Nashville

By: and - October 21, 2022 11:52 pm
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaking Friday at a rally sponsored by right-wing media personality Matt Walsh. (Photo: John Partipilo)

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaking Friday at a rally sponsored by right-wing media personality Matt Walsh. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn joined several other Tennessee lawmakers at a rally to protest gender-affirming care for transgender youth, which drew more than 2,500 activists to Nashville’s War Memorial Plaza on Friday afternoon.

Billed as “The Rally to End Child Mutilation,” the event was hosted by The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. Walsh started a political firestorm in September when he posted videos on social media of Vanderbilt University Medical Center physicians discussing care for transgender minors.

Blackburn, who whipped the crowd into boos with the mention of Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer, was at times nearly drowned out by air horns and shouts from counter-protesters.

Blackburn and Walsh, who opened and closed the event, were joined by on the stage by State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson of Franklin, House Majority Leader William Lamberth of Portland, 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, former Tennessee congressional candidate Robby Starbuck. Also speaking were 18-year-old Chloe Cole, who is de-transitioning after having taken puberty blockers and having “top surgery” — a double mastectomy— for several years while transitioning to male.

Lamberth referred to VUMC as “a certain hospital down the road” and said an “entire woke, medical industry has sprung up.”  Flanked by fellow Republican state senators Ed Jackson of Jackson, Tullahoma’s Janice Bowling and Dawn White of Murfreesboro, Johnson confirmed he and Lamberth will introduce legislation in the next Tennessee General Assembly session to ban any form of gender affirmation surgery on minors.

The legislature passed a law in 2021 that prohibits physicians from prescribing hormone treatment to “prepubertal minors.”

On October 7, VUMC announced the hospital’s Clinic for Transgender Care would temporarily halt all surgeries on minors, adding that no genital procedures are performed on minors.

The crowd was a mostly-white mix of the Walsh faithful, transgender rights allies, members of the white nationalists Proud Boys and vocal individuals preaching on Christianity and sin.

Andrea, a real estate broker from Chicago’s north side — she did not give her last name — attended the event with her boyfriend, both wearing t-shirts that said “Awake, not woke.”

“We heard about it from Matt Walsh,” she said. “We come to Nashville a lot. We’re trying to get out of Chicago.”

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John Partipilo
John Partipilo

Working as a photojournalist for 40 years, Partipilo has won awards such as NPPA Best of Photojournalism and nominated for two Pulitzers. His photography has also been featured in national and international publications. Most importantly Partipilo’s work is about people — people in their different environments and people in their different stages of life. That’s the heart of his work. To him people are so important, because they all have a unique story.

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Holly McCall
Holly McCall

Holly McCall has been a fixture in Tennessee media and politics for decades. She covered city hall for papers in Columbus, Ohio and Joplin, Missouri before returning to Tennessee with the Nashville Business Journal. She has served as political analyst for WZTV Fox 17 and provided communications consulting for political campaigns at all levels, from city council to presidential. Holly brings a deep wealth of knowledge about Tennessee’s political processes and players and likes nothing better than getting into the weeds of how political deals are made.

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