Wisconsin legislation would ban transgender athletes through college level

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Legislation introduced in Wisconsin on Tuesday would ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports from kindergarten through the college level.

The bills, authored by state Rep. Barb Dittrich (R), would allow students to only join teams that corresponded with their biological sex assigned at birth, unless the sport is categorized as “coed.” The package of legislation would apply to public and private schools in Wisconsin, in addition to the University of Wisconsin and technical colleges in the state.

Dittrich said at a Tuesday press conference that the legislation would protect female athletes from playing against competitors with potential physical advantages. She claimed that males can have “higher bone density” and “greater muscle mass” than women. 

Critics of the legislation argue that the bill will marginalize transgender students and block them from playing sports that align with their gender identity.

Five Democratic members of the Wisconsin LGBTQ caucus on Tuesday released a statement condemning the proposal, accusing Dittrich of seeking “to prevent transgender students from participating in school athletics alongside their peers.” 

“Today’s Republican attacks on transgender youth and children in Wisconsin continue a deeply disturbing trend of legislators seeking to limit the rights and opportunities of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools. All young people, including transgender or intersex athletes, should have the right and the opportunity to participate in organized, school-sponsored athletics consistent with their gender identity,” the lawmakers said in the Tuesday statement. 

“Instead of attacking kids who just want to play, our Republican colleagues should get to work on COVID-19 relief for struggling Wisconsinites,” the lawmakers continued.

If the legislation passes through the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, it is expected to be vetoed by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D).

Evers appeared to address the legislation on Twitter on Tuesday, sharing, “My message to Wisconsin’s transgender kids and students today is simple: I see you. You are welcome, you are wanted, and you belong.”

Dittrich on Tuesday told reporters that “If the governor truly is for women, why would he not sign something like this? If you acquaint yourself with the legislation, it absolutely allows everyone to participate.”

Wisconsin joins states across the country in considering legislation targeting transgender athletes. Tennessee’s Senate on Monday advanced legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports in the state.  

Tags Athletics LGBTQ Sports and Politics Tony Evers Transgender
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