Wisconsin Republicans introduced two bills Tuesday aiming to bar transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports at the elementary through college level.
Rep. Barbara Dittrich is leading the effort on the new legislation with a bill entitled “Protecting Women in Sports Act,” which would apply to schools K-12, University of Wisconsin System schools and technical colleges.
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The bill would disallow students to join teams which do not match their doctor-assigned biological sex from birth, according to The Cap Times.
At a press conference, Dittrich said the bill would increase fairness in women’s sports, claiming the participation of transgender athletes in women’s sports causes biological females to lose opportunities at titles, records and scholarships.
While the legislation is unlikely to pass with Gov. Evers’ veto power, Democratic lawmakers and transgender advocates have been quick to push back against the legislation.
In a statement from the state’s LGTBQ Caucus — including Rep. Lee Snodgrass, Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, Sen. Tim Carpenter, Rep. Greta Neubauer and Rep. Mark Spreitzer — the representatives said the bill continues a “longstanding trend of Republican attacks” against transgender youth.
“This proposed legislation is cruel and discriminatory and will cause further harm to children who are already under attack for simply being themselves,” the joint statement said. “There is no place for discrimination in our schools and that includes organized athletics. We must welcome and champion all athletes, regardless of gender identity or expression.”
In a tweet this morning following the introduction of the legislation, Evers said in a message directed to transgender kids and students they are “welcome” and “wanted.”
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In the LGBTQ Caucus statement, transgender activist Jessica Katzenmeyer said the legislature should be focusing on getting the state out of the pandemic instead of targeting LGBTQ youth’s rights.
“As an openly transgender woman, I am very disappointed to continually see these attacks on transgender boys and girls in our public schools trying to prohibit them from participating with the gender they identify as,” Katzenmeyer said in the statement. “This proposed legislation does not help or protect anyone or do any good at all. We should embrace the diversity of our children and allow our transgender children to feel comfortable in expressing who they are.”