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Gov. Tony Evers blocks Republicans’ transgender sports ban bill


Gov. Tony Evers blocks Republicans’ transgender sports ban bill

Apr 02, 2024 | 4:23 pm ET
By Baylor Spears
Gov. Tony Evers blocks Republicans’ transgender sports ban bill
Transgender flags being held by people during a demonstration. (Getty Images)

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican bill Tuesday that would have barred transgender girls from participating on girls’ sports teams. 

The expected veto of AB 377 is Evers’ latest rejection of bills passed by Republicans that targeted LGBTQ+ people. Evers, who also recently vetoed a bill that would ban gender affirming medical care for minors, had repeatedly said that he wouldn’t sign bills that could negatively impact LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites.   

Evers said in his veto message that the bill and “the harmful rhetoric” that produced 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.” 

“I will veto any bill that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids, and I will continue to keep my promise of using every power available to me to defend them, protect their rights, and keep them safe,” Evers said. 

The bill would have required schools to create three categories of teams — “males,” “females,” and “males and females,” — based on students’ sex assigned at birth. It would have specifically prohibited a “male pupil” from participating on a team designated for “females.”

 The bill passed the Assembly with only Republican support. When it passed the Senate, Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) was the only Republican to join Democrats against the bill. 

Evers said in his message that he was vetoing the bill because it ignored the current policy regarding transgender student athletes set by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, because it could conflict with current federal law and because it “fails to comport with our Wisconsin values.” 

“I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to codifying discrimination into state statutes and the Wisconsin State Legislature’s ongoing efforts to perpetuate hateful and discriminatory rhetoric and policies targeting LGBTQ Wisconsinites, including our transgender and gender nonconforming kids,” Evers said. 

The Transgender and Non-Binary Advocacy caucus applauded Evers’ veto in a statement. 

Caucus co-chair Rep. Melissa Ratcliff (D-Cottage Grove) said the “harmful proposal targeted trans and non-binary students and would have prevented them from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity.

“It is a sad day when discrimination and prejudice receive the overwhelming support of Republicans in the State Legislature,” she continued.