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Gov. Evers vetoes GOP bill that would ban gender affirming medical care for minors

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Gov. Evers vetoes GOP bill that would ban gender affirming medical care for minors

Dec 06, 2023 | 1:59 pm ET
By Baylor Spears
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Gov. Evers vetoes GOP bill that would ban gender affirming medical care for minors
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The bill passed both the Senate and Assembly in October with only Republican lawmakers supporting it and despite long public hearings where many attendees said the bill would be harmful to transgender youth. (Wisconsin Examiner photo

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, as expected, vetoed a bill passed by Republicans in the Legislature that would ban gender-affirming medical care for those under 18 on Wednesday. 

Evers said in a statement that he vetoed the bill because he objects to “restricting physicians from providing evidence-based and medically appropriate care to their patients, restricting parents from making decisions with physicians to ensure their kids receive the healthcare they need, and preventing patients from receiving that basic, lifesaving care.” 

Evers said that health care providers should be trusted to provide medically appropriate and accurate information and treatment for patients without political interference. 

He added that he objects “to the Legislature’s ongoing efforts to manufacture and perpetuate false, hateful, and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric in our state.” 

Wisconsin Republicans’ bill was introduced as a wave of GOP lawmakers nationwide have proposed and enacted legislation targeting LGBTQ people, especially transgender individuals.

The bill passed both the Senate and Assembly in October with only Republican lawmakers supporting it and despite long public hearings where many attendees said the bill would be harmful to transgender youth. The bill was opposed by many of Wisconsin’s major medical organizations including the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, Wisconsin Medical Society and Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association.

Throughout those hearings and the passage of the bills, Evers repeatedly opposed the bills and promised to veto any bill that targets LGBTQ people. He reaffirmed that Wednesday. 

“I will veto any bill that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids. I support LGBTQ Wisconsinites, and I will continue to do everything in my power to defend them, protect their rights, and keep them safe,” Evers said.

It is one of several bills introduced in the Legislature this session that targets transgender people. 

Republican lawmakers including the bill’s author Sen. Duey Stroebel and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) criticized Evers’ veto.

“Evers made another harmful mistake. Such a life-altering decision should be made when you’re an adult, not a child,” Vos said in a social media post. “Many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, do not allow for gender transition surgery before the age of 18.”

The bill would have banned several types of gender affirming medical care for minors, not just surgery. It specifically would have prohibited physicians from administering puberty-blocking drugs, testosterone or estrogen and from performing surgeries including mastectomies and any procedure that “sterilizes an individual” for the purpose of “changing the minor’s body to correspond to a sex that is discordant with the minor’s biological sex.” Physicians accused of providing these services could be investigated and face having their licenses revoked.

Wisconsin Republicans, who have a supermajority in the Senate and are two seats short of a supermajority in the Assembly, could attempt to override Evers’ veto. If enough Democrats are absent and every Republican present, this could be accomplished.