Wisconsin Lawmakers Launch Attack on Trans Athletes

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday March 3, 2021

Wisconsin State Rep. Barb Dittrich
Wisconsin State Rep. Barb Dittrich  (Source:Screenshot / Fox6 Milwaukee)

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced two pieces of legislation that target trans student athletes at all levels of education The Cap Times reports.

The bills would ban student athletes from participating on "teams that don't correspond to their biological sex as assigned by a doctor at birth unless the sport is classified as 'coed,' " the Cap Times said. The ban "would apply to public K-12 schools, independent charters, private choice institutions, the University of Wisconsin System, and technical colleges."

State Rep. Barb Dittrich was lead author of the bills. She claimed the legislation was not discriminatory...but intended to protect female athletes.

"Biological females are losing opportunities...titles, records, scholarships, even participation at times," Dittrich said.

The lawmaker also said that Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, would prove himself a "sexist" if he vetoed the bills.

State lawmaker Rep. Janel Brandtjen said she could "never beat my husband" in swimming, a sport they both participated in during college, the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reported.

"That's the biology...the reality," Brandtjen said. "Honestly, you'll ruin women's sports forever. Why would you compete if you knew you couldn't win?"

Evers made his stance towards trans youth clear, opposing a "bathroom bill" in 2015 that would have barred trans students from school restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, the Sentinel recalled.

More recently, Evers tweeted out a message of support: "I see you. You are welcome, you are wanted, and you belong."

"The legislation would go against guidance from high school and collegiate sports associations," the Sentinel mentioned. "The NCAA has allowed transgender athletes who have undergone hormone treatment to be able to compete for a decade."

Equality advocates decried the bills. Cathryn Oakley, Wisconsin state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, said: "Lawmakers' suggestion that student-athletes are trying to game the system for competitive advantage is nonsensical and impractical."

Anti-trans measures targeting student athletes "are being considered in more than 20 states," news channel WISN in Milwaukee noted.

Idaho passed a law banning transgender female athletes from participating in sports in 2020. The bill was "blocked by the courts," the channel reported.

Some state lawmakers are vocal in their opposition. Wisconsin State Sen. Kelda Roys slammed such bills as "political games meant to divide our communities," the Sentinel reported.

Watch the WISN news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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