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Wisconsin bills seek to ban transgender athletes from girls sports

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MADISON (WKOW) — Transgender athletes would be banned from participating in girls’ and women's sports in Wisconsin from kindergarten through college under bills introduced by Republican lawmakers.

The proposals unveiled Tuesday come as more than a dozen other states consider similar measures.

Republican sponsor Rep. Barb Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc) says the measure would protect female athletes from losing a spot on their team or in the record books to a biological male who benefited from physiological advantages.

"When a biological male comes in and sets a record a female could never achieve because she doesn't have the bone density, the muscle mass, the height, and often, testosterone level, that's problematic," Dittrich said in an interview Tuesday.

LGBTQ advocates protested outside the Capitol while the bill's Republican sponsors held a press conference.

Megin McDonell, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin, said the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) already had a solution for those concerns in place.

The WIAA rulebook currently says male-to-female athletes must prove they've undergone testosterone suppression therapy for at least 12 months before they can be eligible for competition in girls sports.

McDonell said instead of promoting fairness, the bills would only serve to further isolate and shun transgender teens.

"It sends a message to them that they're not loved," McDonell said. "They're not worthy of participation and they're somehow less than other kids."

The Wisconsin proposal faces an almost certain veto from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers should it pass the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Dittrich said it would be sexist of  Evers to veto the bills should they pass both the Senate and Assembly.

On Twitter, Evers did not mention the bill specifically but sent a message of Tuesday to the state's transgender youth.

Under the bills, transgender girls would be barred from girls' sports in kindergarten through 12th grade and in women's collegiate sports.

Ginger Baier, the transgender health advocate at Madison-based Outreach, said she understood concerns about genetic advantages for male-to-female athletes but added there could be ways to mitigate those concerns through policies similar to what the WIAA has in place.

Baier said a large concern should be the stigma the legislation creates for both transgender youth and also teens still struggling to define their identity.

"It's hard enough for someone who is young to transition," Baier said. "It's hard for anyone to transition and finally realize who they are but it's just another way of denying rights to a group of people."

Dittrich said her measures were neither transphobic nor exclusionary; she said transgender teens could still participate in either male sports or schools could launch more co-ed athletic programs.

"It shouldn't make them feel marginalized and the last thing I would want to do is marginalize our youth," Dittrich said. "I have three kids of my own and the bullying gets out of hand."

The Associated Press contribute to this report.

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