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Wisconsin State Assembly passes anti-trans bills

The bills, which would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth and sports participation for trans girls and women, will likely be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

By Will Fritz - October 16, 2023
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The Wisconsin State Capitol. (Credit: Roger Fountain)
The Wisconsin State Capitol. (Credit: Roger Fountain)

Republicans in the Wisconsin State Assembly voted Thursday to approve three bills restricting the rights of transgender youth.

The bills — A.B. 465A.B. 377 and A.B. 378 — would, if enacted, bar gender-affirming medical care for trans minors in Wisconsin and ban trans women and girls from taking part in women’s and girls’ sports at the high school and college levels.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has made his opposition clear, and while the bills may pass in the state Senate, Republicans likely do not have the votes to override Evers’ veto.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Evers called the bills scary and downright dangerous.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—not one of these bills will become law in Wisconsin as long as I am governor. Period,” Evers said in the post.

Hours after Republicans voted to approve the bills, the Wisconsin Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus released a statement that pointed to the harms even their introduction can cause trans Wisconsinites.

“As we warned when these bills received public hearings in the State Assembly, their introduction alone is harmful and dangerous to transgender youth,” the LGBTQ+ caucus’ statement reads. “Recent national surveys have shown that 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported negative impacts to their health from the introduction of anti-transgender bills. Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ young people stated that their mental health was poor “always” or “most of the time” due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation.”

The passage of the bills was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign.

“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,” the HRC 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.”

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to insist the bills are right for Wisconsinites.

“Hopefully, Gov. Evers has a change of heart,” Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said at a press conference before the Oct. 12 floor session on the three bills, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.

The gender-affirming care ban goes against the recommendations of medical experts.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American College Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization all support giving trans youth access to gender-affirming care.

One of the approved bills, A.B. 465, bans 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.”

The treatments and procedures that the bill bans include everything from puberty-blocking drugs to testosterone or estrogen treatments to gender-affirming surgical procedures.

Gender-affirming surgeries, despite now being banned for youth in 22 states, are actually exceedingly rarely carried out on minors. A partnership between Reuters and Komodo Health Inc. found a total of 56 genital surgeries performed on individuals between the ages of 13 and 17 from 2019 to 2021. According to data published by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School, there were approximately 300,000 trans youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in 2022.

A.B. 377, which is similar to a bill that was passed by the Assembly in 2021, restricts trans student athlete participation on single-sex sports teams at public and private K-12 schools. A.B. 378 places those same restrictions on participation in sports in the University of Wisconsin System and at state technical colleges.

The bills require K-12 and college sports teams to consider only sex as assigned at birth in determining students’ eligibility for sports teams and bar anyone assigned male at birth from participating in girls’ and women’s sports, regardless of their gender identity.

The Wisconsin Examiner reported that a veto override would require some Democratic votes, and Democratic lawmakers have affirmed they will block attempts to push the bills through over Evers’ objections.

“We know that these bills are not going to become law – Governor Evers has stated that he will veto them. Democrats will uphold that veto,” the LGBTQ+ Caucus said in its statement. “We call upon our Republican colleagues to stop inflicting unnecessary pain on transgender and nonbinary Wisconsinites, and to remove these bills from consideration.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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