News (USA)

Wisconsin Republicans advance trans sports & gender-affirming care bans

Tony Evers
Tony Evers Photo: via Wikipedia

Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled State Assembly advanced three bills outlawing gender-affirming care for minors and banning transgender student-athletes from participating on teams corresponding to their gender identity.

The three bills passed on Thursday include one that requires student-athletes in grades K–12 to compete on teams that match the gender they were assigned at birth and one that applies the same requirement to college students. A third bans gender-affirming care for minors.

Every major medical organization in the U.S. has recognized that gender-affirming care, which varies for different age groups, is evidence-based, safe, effective, and medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria in young people. Representatives from most of Wisconsin’s major hospitals, the American Pediatric Association, and the American Medical Association submitted testimony against the bill.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has vowed to veto any legislation targeting transgender people’s rights. Last week, he made a rare appearance at the state legislature, where he reaffirmed that pledge to opponents of the three bills.

“You’ve got my support on all of these. We’re gonna veto every single one of them,” Evers said. “I know you’re here because you’re pissed off and you want to stop it, and you will stop it, and I’ll help you stop it.”

The Associated Press reports that the bills passed the assembly in a 63–35 vote along party lines, with no Democrats voting in favor.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) compared being transgender to “mental illness” and gender-affirming care to “lobotomy.”

“It’s interesting if you go back in history, the way to treat mental illness 50 to 100 years ago was a lobotomy,” he told reporters at a press conference before the vote. “And at the time that was settled science.”

Out Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D) called Vos’s comments “disgusting and completely misguided.”

“Transgender individuals deserve to be treated with respect and must be able to access the medical care that they and their care teams deem necessary,” she said.

State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R) characterized the trans sports bans as protecting women’s sports. “We want to make sure women’s sports have a chance in hell to be able to compete after all the training, all the workouts, all the sacrifice,” she said.

Notably, the sports bills’ chief sponsor, state Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R), told a State Assembly committee last week that she knows of only six transgender athletes in Wisconsin.

Wendy Strout, the Human Rights Campaign’s Wisconsin state director, blasted Wisconsin Republicans for passing the bills.

“When radical lawmakers in Madison could have actually tackled the real issues plaguing children’s health and athletics, they instead chose to pursue the politics of fear and division peddled by a small yet extreme base that has no shame in demonizing vulnerable children,” Strout said in a statement. “Let’s get the record straight. The legislation passed today will only make it difficult or impossible for a transgender or non-binary child to grow up as their authentic self.”

“Gender-affirming care is life-saving care. Period.”

The bills will now go to Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled state Senate and, if passed there, to Evers’s desk.

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