News (USA)

Wisconsin Gov. vetoes “harmful” trans sports ban because it would make state “less safe”

Tony Evers
Tony Evers Photo: via Wikipedia

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has vetoed a Republican-led ban on transgender high school athletes, saying that such legislation would needlessly harm the mental well-being of trans youth and make the state less safe for LGBTQ+ people. State Republicans reportedly lack the votes to override his veto.

“This type of legislation, and the harmful rhetoric we get by pursuing it, harms LGBTQ Wisconsinites’ and kids’ mental health, emboldens anti-LGBTQ harassment, bullying, and violence, and threatens the safety and dignity of LGBTQ Wisconsinites, especially our LGBTQ kids,” Evers wrote in his veto message.

“I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to codifying discrimination into state statute and the Wisconsin state legislature’s ongoing efforts to perpetuate hateful and discriminatory rhetoric and policies targeting LGBTQ Wisconsinites including our transgender and gender nonconforming kids…. I will veto any bill that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids,” Evers added.

He vetoed the bill in a public ceremony while surrounded by trans advocates, Democratic lawmakers, the mayor of Madison and others, NBC News reported.

The bill would have required public, private, and independent charter schools to designate each team by the gender of its participants, and then require participants to play on teams matching the gender listed on their birth certificates.

The bill would have overruled current policies, established in 2015 by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, that allowed trans students to play on sports teams matching their gender identity as long as they provided a personal letter; supporting documentation from parents, teachers, and medical professionals; and proof of any gender-affirming care.

In his veto message, he noted that the proposed law would also have Bostock v. Clayton County, a 2020 Supreme Court decision that ruled LGBTQ+ discrimination as a form of sex discrimination. Evers said the ban would have also contradicted the administration of President Joe Biden and his Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits educational sex discrimination. Biden has said the law forbids schools from outright banning trans students from playing on sports teams matching their gender identities.

As of April 2, 25 states have laws banning trans athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identities. Supporters of trans sports bans claim they ar necessary to “protect” girls’ and women’s sports. However, opponents have pointed out that sexism and poor funding harm women’s sports and discourage female athleticism far more than trans competitors. Many young trans student-athletes just want to play sports alongside their friends to have fun, stay healthy, and feel accepted by their peers.

Last September, Evers vetoed a Republican-led bill that would’ve banned gender-affirming medical care for minors. Most major American medical associations consider such care to be safe, effective, and essential to trans people’s overall well-being.

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