Today, the Republican-held state assembly passed a pair of bills barring trans students from school sports. The bills face a certain veto from Governor Tony Evers — but civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers say their very introduction is problematic.
The legislation would bar trans student athletes from competing in womens’ school sports — from elementary school all the way through college. Under the legislation, trans women and girls would be forced to either compete as the gender they were assigned at birth, or in sports specifically marked co-ed.
Wisconsin’s bills are part of a nationwide, Republican-driven campaign that seeks to bar trans students from girl’s sports.
Speaking on the Assembly floor today, Representative Barbara Dittrich, the legislation’s author, argued that trans female students have an unfair advantage in school sports.
I disappointingly heard from my female colleagues on the left that transngender women are women. Let me remind you that you cannot make XY DNA XX DNA, nor negate the physiological advantages that remain solely because one identifies as a given gender,” Dittrich said.
According to an investigation by the Associated Press, in more than 20 states where similar legislation has been floated, lawmakers largely can’t cite local examples of conflicts transgender participation in sports has caused.
Speaking at a Pride month event earlier this month, Governor Tony Evers made a similar point — while indicating his plans to veto the legislation.
“These sorts of harmful bills and hateful policies are ‘solutions’ in search of problems that don’t exist,” Evers said. They’re based on some hypothetical stories about somebody else someplace else, rather than the evidence right in front of us and the harm they can do to LGBTQ kids.”
While lawmakers convened in the Assembly chambers for their session, about 150 protesters gathered on the north end of the Capitol building in a demonstration of solidarity with trans students.
Amira Pierotti — a youth activist — says that the bills could do long-term psychological harm to transgender kids, even if they get veto’d by the Governor.
“We already live our lives knowing that at any point we can be harassed or face violence. And to have the Wisconsin legislature put their seal of approval on that is absolutely horrific,” Pierotti says.
Austin Kieler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s LGBT Caucus, says the timing of the Assembly’s vote, during Pride month, adds insult to injury. He points to the history of the holiday, and its roots as a protest originally led by trans activists.
“As trans people are under attack in the state of Wisconsin, I think it’s incredibly important that we’re out here fighting to support them,” Kieler says. “Especially when you think about how the entire Queer and LGBTQ liberation movement started as a riot in Stonewall by trans people of color. We have to fight back and that’s what we’re doing today.”
In related news out of the capitol today, the legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus put forward a 2021 Equality Agenda. The six bill package includes a ban on conversion therapy, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and establishing a transgender equality task force.
The trans student sports bills now head to the Republican-controlled Senate for consideration, after which they’ll be passed off to Governor Tony Evers — who has indicated that he’ll veto them.
PHOTO: Jonah Chester