Wisconsin Governor Vetoes MAGA Bill Targeting Lifesaving Medical Care for Transgender Youth — Affirms Commitment to Transgender Youth 

by Alana Caesar

Gov. Evers Makes Good on Promise to Stand With LGBTQ+ Youth, Fight for Equality

MADISON, WI — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — applauded Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for vetoing AB465, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation aimed at restricting health care for transgender youth. Governor Evers’ veto makes good on his public commitment to defend equality in the state and protect LGBTQ+ young people from hateful far-right politics.

Wendy Strout, HRC’s Wisconsin State Director, released the following statement:

“We are grateful that Governor Evers, a key ally in the fight for equality in Wisconsin, has vetoed this bill designed to sow divisions. It is not in a politician's job description to make medical decisions for constituents. That decision is between providers and families–period.”

In October, Governor Evers posted on social media reiterating his support for LGBTQ+ youth:

“I want LGBTQ folks, including our trans kids, to know they are welcome, wanted, and belong here in Wisconsin, and I will keep fighting every day to continue our work to build a state where they feel safe, supported, and loved being exactly who they are.”

AB465 would have directed state medical boards to revoke the medical licenses of healthcare professionals who provide life-saving, medically necessary health care to transgender youth. Although transgender young people make up an extremely small percentage of youth in this country, the care they receive is based on decades of clinical research and is backed by every major medical association in the US, representing over 1.3 million doctors.

Governor Evers’ veto of the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is just the latest example of pro-equality leaders taking action to protect LGBTQ+ people. This year, in neighboring Michigan, the pro-equality majority in the state legislature expanded existing civil rights laws to guarantee nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed it into law. In Arizona, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed multiple anti-LGBTQ+ bills, including an anti-transgender bathroom bill, and promised to “veto every bill that aims to attack and harm children.”

Extreme politicians without any medical training are interfering with the rights of parents of transgender youth. No parent should ever be put in the position where they and their doctor agree on one course of action supported by the overwhelming majority of medical experts, but the government forbids it. But that's what happens when politicians try to ban best-practice health care.

THE FACTS: Gender-Affirming Care

Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person. Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

This is why majorities of Americans oppose criminalizing or banning gender-affirming care. Two recent national surveys report that majorities of Americans oppose “criminalizing” or “banning” gender transition-related medical care for minors: 54% oppose (NPR/Marist on 3/20-23, 2023); 53% oppose (Grinnell College National Survey on 3/14-19, 2023). Democrats and Independents drive opposition to such legislation, suggesting that support for such bans carries risk in a general election context.

Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity. Some people take medication; some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and doctor. Therapists, parents, and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time are in the child's best interest. In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:

  • New name

  • New hairstyle

  • New clothing

  • None of this care is irreversible.

Being transgender is not new. Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has covered it more in recent months and years. But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass. And very few transgender people change their minds.

ALL gender-affirming care is age-appropriate, medically necessary, supported by all major medical organizations, and made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents. In many cases, this care is life-saving. A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

For more information, please visit hrc.org/transgender as well as these resources:

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