Wisconsin Legislature moves forward with anti-trans bills
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This series is a weekly roundup of LGBTQ-related news, covering various laws and bans, as well as efforts to push back against them.

Wisconsin Senate passes anti-trans bills

The Republican-led Wisconsin State Senate voted on Oct. 17 to send three bills that would restrict the rights of transgender youth to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ desk.

The three bills — A.B. 465, A.B. 377 and A.B. 378 — would ban gender-affirming medical care for trans minors and also ban trans women and girls from playing on women’s and girls sports teams at the high school and college levels.

The Wisconsin State Assembly, also led by Republicans, passed all three bills on Oct. 12. All Democratic members of both the Assembly and the Senate voted against the bills, PBS NewsHour reported.

Evers has already indicated he will not allow the bills to become law, and Republicans likely don’t have the votes to override vetoes from the governor.

“Today, the Assembly is voting on a series of anti-LGTBQ bills targeting our trans kids. It’s scary. And it’s downright dangerous,” Evers tweeted. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—not one of these bills will become law in Wisconsin as long as I am governor. Period.”

Even so, some lawmakers said the bills’ mere existence is doing harm to trans youth in Wisconsin.

“Recent national surveys have shown that 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported negative impacts to their health from the introduction of anti-transgender bills,” the Wisconsin Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus said in a statement Oct. 12, the day the Assembly voted to pass the three bills. “Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ young people stated that their mental health was poor ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’ due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation.”

Conservative legal group targets LGBTQ+ rights

In an Oct. 18 interview with Terry Gross, the host of Philadelphia public radio station WHYY’s “Fresh Air,” journalist David Kirkpatrick discussed the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom’s attacks on reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights.

Kirkpatrick, author of a recent story in the New Yorker titled “The Next Targets For The Group That Overturned Roe,” said the ADF was instrumental in driving the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022 that overturned the federal right to abortion.

Now, Kirkpatrick said in both his story and his interview with Gross, the group has turned its attention to medication abortions and LGBTQ+ rights, especially trans rights.

“The crux of the issue for them now, I think, is around transgender youth,” Kirkpatrick told Gross.

He said the ADF’s efforts have fueled the national wave of legislation targeting trans youth.

“There are other issues, as you know, about schools referring to a student according to the pronoun of their choice, possibly at odds with the wishes of the parents, the questions about what regulations there should be on transition medical care for minors,” Kirkpatrick said. “Those are all issues where ADF is very active at the moment.”

There have been 501 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures as of Oct. 23, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kirkpatrick said that ADF President Kristen Waggoner told him that her organization is not targeting the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. He noted:“The cases that they’ve brought look precisely like the kinds of cases you would bring if you had a long-term legislative strategy to overturn Obergefell. And, of course, they opposed Obergefell. They continue to believe it was wrongly decided. She said, no, we’re not trying to overturn Obergefell now. But at the same time, she continues to believe that it was wrongly decided, and she believes — ADF believes — that it’s had all kinds of deleterious consequences for the culture at large.”

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The Wisconsin Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.