Evers calls bills to ban transgender athletes in women’s sports ‘inappropriate’

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says a Republican-authored proposal that would largely ban transgender high school students from participating in girls’ sports is a “problem” and “inappropriate.”

The bills were proposed in March by Republican lawmakers as more than a dozen other states considered similar measures following an executive order by President Joe Biden that banned discrimination based on gender identity in school sports. The proposal would prevent transgender students from participating in girls’ and women’s sports in Wisconsin, from kindergarten through college.

The proposal drew outrage and protests from the LGBTQ+ community, but Republican State Rep. Barb Dittrich said the governor would be “sexist” if he didn’t sign the bill if it was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

“I very seldom think about a veto before I actually see the bills, but anytime we decide to take a certain group of kids and prevent them from reaching their full potential, that’s a problem,” Gov. Evers said.

The Wisconsin bill would allow students to only join teams that matched their biological sex as assigned at birth unless the sport is classified as “coed,” and would apply to both public and private schools, as well as the University of Wisconsin System and technical colleges.

Supporters of the bills say the goal is to ensure competition in girl’s and women’s sports is fair, but Gov. Evers says several athletic organizations around the world have allowed transgender people to compete according to their gender identity.

“Whether it’s NCAA, whether it’s the Olympics, any number of organizations have decided not to do draconian things to transgender people. So to me, it’s kind of a solution seeking a problem that doesn’t exist,” the governor said. “But most importantly, when we’re messing around with kids’ lives like that, I just think that’s inappropriate.”

The bills are up for a public hearing on Wednesday morning, but Evers made it clear he does agree with the proposals.

“I stand with trans kids,” Gov. Evers said. “I think calling them out is just not a step in the right direction for them or their communities.”