The Wisconsin Senate advanced a bill that restricts the forms of medical intervention that can be offered to minors who identify as transgender or who experience gender dysphoria.
Democrats in both the Senate and the state assembly uniformly opposed the measure but did not have enough votes to block its passage.
“This bill is nothing short of cruel,” said state Senator Mark Spreitzer during a debate on the policy, per PBS. “Stop hurting LGBTQ kids.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, has said he will veto the bill, which would prohibit doctors from performing genital surgeries on anyone under the age of 18 for the purpose of gender transition.
“We’re going to veto every single one of them,” Evers said to LGBTQ advocates at a rally at the state Capitol last week, per AP News. “I know you’re here because you’re pissed off and you want to stop it, and you will stop it, and I’ll help you stop it.”
The bill is one of three passed by the Assembly last week that would regulate gender-related issues. The chamber also passed laws requiring both high school and college athletes to compete on teams that match their sex at birth.
Wisconsin Republicans have been accused of putting their political goals ahead of children who identify as transgender through their advocacy for medical restrictions.
“Not only does it display a fundamental lack of understanding of transgender children, it also appears to criminalize best practice medical care for transgender youth that is backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and other leading medical authorities,” Megin McDonell, the executive director of Fair Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Republicans have denied the accusations. Lawmakers in favor of the policies argue that the restrictions are designed to help, not hurt, vulnerable minors.
“My Democratic colleagues continue to use the word hate when discussing this bill, and I am sick of the empty rhetoric,” wrote Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in a message on X.
“No one hates kids because we want them to wait until they’re adults to make such a significant, life-altering decision,” he continued. “Many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, do not allow for gender transition surgery before the age of 18.”
“So don’t give me all this crap about how you say we are being hateful,” Vos said while speaking from the chamber floor on Oct. 12. “We are protecting kids just like they do around the world in a way that parents want which is why you don’t talk about the reality of where most people are in society. All you do is throw around empty rhetoric.”
More than 20 states have passed age restrictions on genital surgeries and other forms of medical intervention that can legally be offered to minors as a treatment for transgenderism or gender dysphoria.