The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly planned to vote Wednesday on bills banning transgender athletes from participating in girls' and women's sports, measures that are being debated in the middle of gay pride month and are all-but certain to be headed for a veto by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Even though they are unlikely to become law, the Assembly has scheduled five hours of debate on the measures that opponents say are discriminatory and unnecessary. They must also pass the Senate before going to Evers, who has repeatedly said he stands with transgender students.
A broad array of more than 30 groups opposed the measures at public hearings last month. Supporters, including female athletes and representatives from national groups pushing similar laws in other states, argued that the sanctity of girls’ and women’s sports was at stake.
Opponents include the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which regulates high school sports, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the statewide teachers union, the ACLU, the State Bar of Wisconsin’s civil rights and liberties section, the LGBTQ advocacy group Fair Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The proposals are part of a nationwide movement targeting transgender people, particularly athletes.
Lawmakers in more than 30 states, mostly Republican controlled, have considered sports participation bans, and they’ve become law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Montana and West Virginia after Idaho enacted one last year. Other states, including Kansas and North Dakota, passed bans only to have them vetoed by the governor.
The Wisconsin bills would allow students to join teams only that correspond to their biological sex as assigned by a doctor at birth, unless the sport is classified as “coed.” It would apply to public and private schools, as well as the University of Wisconsin and technical colleges.
Supporters argue that transgender girls have an unfair physical advantage, and that passing the bill would ensure that girls have a level playing field while preserving competitive achievements and scholarships.
A federal court blocked enforcement of the law in Idaho. In Connecticut, several girls are challenging a state law that allows transgender athletes to participate in female sports.