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Republican-dominated Wisconsin State Assembly takes aims at transgender youth

One bill would ban best-practice care for trans minors.

By Will Fritz and Rebekah Sager - October 06, 2023
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Protesters outside of the Capitol building in Madison, WI, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (Photo Credit: Roger Fountain)
Protesters outside of the Capitol building in Madison, WI, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (Photo Credit: Roger Fountain)

The Republican-dominated Wisconsin State Assembly held hearings in early October on three separate bills aimed at curtailing the rights of transgender youth in the state.

One of the bills would bar most best-practice gender-affirming care for trans minors. The other two would restrict sports participation by trans students in Wisconsin high schools and colleges.

The hearings, held Oct. 4, were met with resistance from Democratic lawmakers along with rally attendees outside the Capitol building in Madison.

“When I want advice about medical care, I’m not coming to any of my colleagues, I’m going to my doctor… to the experts,” Democratic Assemblymember Lisa Subeck said during one of the hearings, according to the Capital Times in Madison. “Why do you think you know better than all of these medical professionals?”

In total, the hearings included more than 15 hours of testimony, the Capital Times reported.

At the rally outside the Capitol, opponents of the bill made their voices heard. Dan Werner, whose 13-year-old trans son Charlie testified during one of the hearings, told the American Independent Foundation that the bill potentially banning gender-affirming care for minors would take away his son’s right to treatments that “are helping him to make his way through life.”

The bills, Werner said, would be a detriment to his son’s ability to “have a chance to grow old and contribute more to this world, more than he’s already contributed.”

While none of the bills are likely to get Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ signature, they do mean Wisconsin has joined a wave of states with anti-LGBTQ+ bills making their way through their legislatures. As of Oct. 5, the ACLU has tracked a total of 496 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country, in nearly every state, of which 84 have become law.

The bill restricting gender-affirming care, Assembly Bill 465, bars health care providers from engaging in or assisting with treatments or procedures for minors if they are done for the purpose of “changing the minor’s body to correspond to a sex that is discordant with the minor’s biological sex.”

A.B. 465 bans specific gender-affirming surgeries, puberty-blocking drugs, and hormone treatments for transitioning minors. The restrictions proposed in the bill go against the 2018 recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics — recommendations that the academy recently reaffirmed.

“The AAP and other major medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization — support giving transgender adolescents access to the health care they need,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in August 2023.

The other two bills, A.B. 377 and A.B. 378, require that players on single-sex sports teams at the K-12 and collegiate levels be allowed to participate based only on their sex as assigned at birth. This means trans student athletes would not be able to play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. A.B. 377, which is largely similar to a bill that was passed by the Assembly in 2021, restricts trans student athlete participation at both public and private K-12 schools. A.B. 378 places those same restrictions on participation in the University of Wisconsin System and at state technical colleges.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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