Athletes urge lawmakers to ban transgender girls, women from sports teams

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Female athletes and the transgender community clashed during a public hearing over a bill that would bar transgender people from participating in girls' and women's sports. 

Outside the Capitol, a group of protesters gathered in opposition to legislation that allows students to only join sports teams that correlate with their biological sex. 

“What the Republican Legislature is seeking to do right now is victimizing and traumatizing these kids that face it every day,” said Dina Nina Martinez of Madison. 

The bills received their first public hearing at the Capitol, one would bar transgender athletes from joining women’s sports teams at K-12 public and private schools, another proposal uses the same policy but at UW campuses and technical colleges.

Professional athletes shared their personal experiences to lawmakers, asking them to ban transgender athletes from competitions because they’ve either lost prize money or other awards to biological males. 

“It’s the most demoralizing thing that has ever happened to me,” said Leia Schneeberger, a professional mountain biker from Madison. “I can’t train myself to be a biological man.”

Schneeberger added, “It’s only a matter of time until transgender females are taking college scholarships from high school girls who have been training their entire lives to play at the collegiate level.”

State Rep. Barb Dittrich (R- Oconomowoc), who introduced the bills as the “Protecting Women in Sports Act,” said the goal is to create a fair playing field.

“There is a whole army of women in Wisconsin sports that are fed up giving up their titles and awards to those who were born biological males,” Dittrich said. 

Democratic Rep. Sondy Pope, of Mt. Horeb, called the bill confusing because “transgender women are women."

There’s already a policy in Wisconsin schools that restricts transgender girls from playing on sports teams unless they’ve had one year of testosterone suppression therapy. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), who’s enforced the policy for eight years, also requires parental consent and a doctor's note before competing.

Rachel Crowl, a transgender female from Appleton, said Republicans are “chasing a problem that doesn’t exist.”

“We’re already talking about a very tiny population and there are very few documented instances where someone came in and took over the sport,” Crowl said. 

Governor Tony Evers is expected to veto the proposals if they reach his desk. He tweeted his support to the trans community Wednesday.

“Trans kids deserve our love and respect and support just like any other kid." 

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