Wisconsin Governor Vetoes Ban on Transgender Athletes in Girls’ Sports

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
April 6, 2024US News
Wisconsin Governor Vetoes Ban on Transgender Athletes in Girls’ Sports
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks in Superior, Wis., on Jan. 25, 2024. (Alex Brandon/AP)

A recent bill proposed by Wisconsin Republicans that would have banned biological male athletes in high school from competing in girl’s sports has been rejected by the state governor.

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the bill on April 2 in the Capitol, surrounded by Democratic lawmakers, LGBT advocates, the mayor of Madison, and others.

Despite overwhelming support from Republicans during its introduction, which prevented Democrats from stopping the bill from passing the legislature, Republicans now don’t have enough votes to override the veto.

Mr. Evers, who has always opposed the bill, vowed to veto it since it was introduced. In his veto message, he claimed that the proposed legislation poses harm to members of the LGBT community in the state, threatens their safety, and allegedly promotes bullying, harassment and even violence against them.

“This type of legislation, and the harmful rhetoric beget 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,” according to Mr Evers’ veto message.

Mr Evers vowed that as long as he is governor, he will reject any of what he referred to as “radical policies targeting LGBT individuals,” as well as their ability to express their beliefs.

“I’ll keep my promise to veto any bill making Wisconsin less safe, less inclusive and less welcoming for LGBTQ people and kids — including this one. And I’ll be damn proud to do it,” Mr Evers touted upon the bill’s initial proposal earlier this month.

The decision to veto the bill received strong criticism from Republicans, including Congresswoman Barb Dittrich, the bill’s sponsor, who called the veto “disgusting” and an affront to women, accusing the governor of taking a “misogynistic and hateful position towards actual females.”

“His veto today clearly demonstrates his disrespect for women and girls as well as for protecting their hard-fought achievements,” Ms. Dittrich said in a statement.

The bill, AB 377, which had passed the Senate by a 20-11 vote, would have limited athletes to compete in their respective teams, aligned with their sex determined at birth.

Republican lawmakers argued that the bill represents fairness towards non-transgender athletes, particularly since males have a distinct physical advantage over females.

Republicans weren’t the only ones opposed to the veto. The American Principles Project, a conservative group that has previously advocated for similar measures, issued a statement on April 2 following the decision.

“Over the last week, the twisted priorities of far-left Democrats have become crystal clear. Radicals like Joe Biden will use Easter Sunday to celebrate a ‘Transgender Day of Visibility,’ and yet they continue to treat girl athletes as invisible,” the statement read.

The participation of males in women’s sports is currently banned in around two dozen states, with several other states having introduced similar legislation. Temporary injunctions currently block enforcement of the bans in Arizona, Idaho, West Virginia, and Utah.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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