‘Trans kids are just kids’: LGBTQ+ community responds to bills seeking to ban transgender students in female sports

MADISON, Wis.– Lawmakers and about two dozen people stood in opposition outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol as bills restricting transgender students participation in sports were introduced Tuesday morning.

“Trans kids are just kids and should be able to do things that other kids are able to do,” Ollie Heide said.

The two bills Representative Barbara Dittrich introduced would do the opposite.

The Protecting Women in Sports Act is made up of two bills that would not allow transgender girls and women to compete in female sports in grades K-12 and the collegiate level. Instead, the bill’s author said transgender girls would play in a third category for mixed genders.

“Now, in a fractured, well-meaning attempt at inclusion, women’s achievements have once again been put at a great risk of loss,” Dittrich said.

Republican Rep. Janel Brandtjen said sports can provide women with skills needed throughout life, skills she claims could vanish without republican action.

“It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn leadership, to learn how to win, to learn how to lose, to learn how to have sportsmanship,” Brandtjen said reflecting on her days as a swimmer.

Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Megin McDonell said transgender youth join sports for the same reasons.

“Bills like this really get in the way of that and prevent that and send a message to trans youth that they’re not valued and they’re less than any other kid,” McDonell said.

Dittrich pushed back at that idea, claiming her bills are about ensuring fair is fair.

“It’s an issue of standing for women’s achievement, not cutting anyone out of participation,” Dittrich said.

To the people standing outside, the bills represent new barriers, something democratic lawmakers hope to prevent from going up in the first place.

“It is vitally important that the legislature stand up against the incursion of hate and division within our schools,” Democratic Sen. Melissa Agard said.

Dittrich said if Gov. Tony Evers doesn’t support these bills that means he doesn’t support women.

Evers tweeted support for transgender students Tuesday afternoon.

“My message to Wisconsin’s transgender kids and students today is simple: I see you. You are welcome, you are wanted, and you belong,” Evers wrote in the tweet.