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Trans councilwoman fears felony sex-ID charge under rigid TN law

By CM Chaney · September 26, 2023

In brief…

  • Olivia Hill made history as the first transgender individual elected to office in Tennessee, winning a seat on the Nashville Metro Council.
  • A new Tennessee law defines gender as "immutable biological sex" determined at birth, causing Hill, who identifies as a woman, to fear being forced to use men's restrooms.
  • Hill also worries showing her female driver's license could lead to felony false ID charges under the new law.
  • Hill declared: "I ran as a qualified human to sit at the table. It just so happened that I am the first trans person."
Tennessee's first transgender elected official, Olivia Hill, fears felony charges under a new state law barring identification contradicting sex assigned at birth.  

Olivia Hill made history this month as the first transgender individual elected to public office in Tennessee. The 57-year-old Nashville Metro Council member, however, now faces potential worries under a new state law regarding bathroom use and identification documents.

The law, which went into effect on July 1, mandates that a person’s “immutable biological sex” is determined by “anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.”

While the legislation does not outright ban transgender individuals from using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity, Hill fears it could be used to force her to use men’s restrooms in government buildings.

Hill is also concerned that possessing a driver’s license listing her as female could lead to felony charges under the law’s false-identification clause. While the law does not require transgender citizens to change legal documents, it also does not provide protections when those documents conflict with the sex assigned at birth.

Hill, a Navy veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, has received a warm reception from fellow Nashville council members. Several say they will overlook the pending restroom restrictions.

While anxious over potential discrimination issues, Hill remains excited to serve the community that elected her.

“I ran as a qualified human to sit at the table. It just so happened that I am the first trans person,” she told The Daily Beast.

Hill was one of five women elected to Nashville’s Metro Council this month. She hopes to use her technical expertise as a plumber, pipefitter, welder, and mechanic to improve local infrastructure and promote public works programs.