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The Wisconsin State Assembly has voted to advance a series of bills that target transgender minors, limiting access to gender-affirming healthcare and restricting participation in sports teams for trans youth.

This decision was made despite strong opposition from community members, advocacy groups, and multiple medical organizations. During a public forum held last week, hundreds showed up to voice their disagreement, filling not only the main chamber but also three overflow rooms. Additionally, over 10,000 pages of testimonies were submitted to showcase the public’s opinion.

Medical associations such as the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the National Association of Social Workers, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and the Wisconsin Public Health Association, also registered their opposition.

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Even with significant resistance, the Assembly approved all three bills: AB 465, AB 377, and AB 378. These will now move to the Republican-dominated state Senate for further consideration.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who attended last week’s public forum, has vowed to veto all three bills if they get that far. Speaking to a room filled with citizens against the bills, he stated, “The only way we can do that is to continue to be strong just like everyone in this room.”

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer and Representative Lisa Subeck criticised the decision. Neubauer pointed out the necessity of treating transgender individuals with respect and providing them access to medical care. Subeck accused the Republican members of the Assembly of allowing unfounded fears about transgender people to supersede the judgment of medical professionals and families.

Should the bills become law, Wisconsin would join almost two dozen U.S. states with similar restrictions on transgender youth participating in sports and another 22 states that have curtailed or banned gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors.

Interestingly, a study by Columbia University’s Jason D. Wright showed that from 2016 to 2019, fewer than 3,700 gender-affirming surgeries were conducted on patients between the ages of 12 and 18 in the U.S. Instead, treatment options like puberty blockers and hormone therapy are more commonly administered after a comprehensive medical evaluation and with parental consent.

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