Wisconsin Governor Vetoes Bill Banning Gender-Altering Surgery for Minors

The legislation, which would also prohibit puberty blockers and hormone treatments, was overwhelmingly passed by the Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature.
Wisconsin Governor Vetoes Bill Banning Gender-Altering Surgery for Minors
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks on Labor Day at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wis., on Sept. 5, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)
Alice Giordano
12/11/2023
Updated:
12/11/2023
0:00

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed legislation that would have banned gender-altering surgery for minors in the Badger State.

Mr. Evers, a Democrat who has vowed to reject what he describes as anti-transgender legislation, issued the veto on Dec. 6 after the bill was approved by two-to-one votes in both the Senate and the Assembly.

Mr. Evers, who’s serving his second four-year term, made history last year during the failed red wave in Republican races, becoming the first Democratic governor elected in Wisconsin’s midterms since 1962.

He narrowly beat Republican challenger Tim Michel, eking out a less than 2 percent victory.

Several young children were present when he held a press conference in his gubernatorial office at the Wisconsin state House to sign the veto live on television on Dec. 6.

The bill, AB 485, proposed “prohibiting gender transition medical intervention for individuals under 18 years of age.” This includes puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone treatments, and surgeries.

Mr. Evers called the Republican-led ban hateful and discriminatory, saying it risked the safety of children who identify as LGBT.

“Further, and especially important to me personally, I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to the Legislature’s ongoing efforts to manufacture and perpetuate false, hateful, and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric in our state,” he said.

‘Hate and Violence’

“This type of legislation, and the rhetoric beget by pursuing it, harms LGBTQ people and kids’ mental health, emboldens anti-LGBTQ hate and violence, and threatens the safety and dignity of LGBTQ Wisconsinites.”

Rocky Rodriguez, a volunteer for the Wisconsin chapter of the national group Gays Against Groomers, told The Epoch Times that Mr. Evers is promoting “gender mutilation” of children.

Mr. Rodriguez said that no one under the age of 18 is even close to being developed physically and emotionally enough to undergo what he called such “barbaric” and “drastic experimentation.”

“There are adults that are 30 and 40 that are transitioning. So what does that tell you?” he said. “If people 30 and 40 don’t even know what they want in life, how does a child already definitely know what they want?”

Mr. Rodridguez, who is gay, said he resents gender identity politics being lumped in with gay activism.

“I’m a man who is gay, I’m not confused about what gender I am; that’s a mental disorder,” he said.

Mr. Rodriquez was among dozens who testified at legislative hearings in favor of the ban. Several also testified against it, and several health care providers pledged opposition, including the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

22 States Ban Gender-Altering of Minors

The vetoed bill aligned with a poll conducted in May by the Marquette University Law School that revealed that 71 percent of Wisconsinites opposed gender-altering surgery for minors.

Mr. Evers’s veto puts Wisconsin against the growing tide of states passing bans on gender-altering surgery and other treatments such as puberty blockers for minors. At least 22 states have enacted such bans, most of them within the past year.

Conversely, some states have passed laws protecting gender-altering surgery for minors, including most recently Maine, where Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed a bill allowing such surgeries for 16- and 17-year-olds without parental approval.

A group called the LGBTQ Victory Institute is working on a campaign to recruit and train candidates who will lobby for gender-altering surgery legislation for minors.

At a debate on the Wisconsin bill, Democrat Rep. Mark Spreitzer called a ban on gender-altering surgery for minors “nothing short of cruel.”

“Kids are just trying to live their lives, do well in school—and yes, receive the medical care they need,” he said.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, argued in a floor debate that allowing children to undergo sex change operations was hypocritical given Wisconsin laws that prevent minors from getting tattoos, smoking, or drinking alcohol.

“Evers made another harmful mistake,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, in response to the governor’s veto.

‘A Life-Altering Decision’

“Such a life-altering decision should be made when you’re an adult, not a child. Many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, do not allow for gender transition surgery before the age of 18.”

According to Wisconsin Family Law Info, family court judges typically operate under the idea in custody disputes that children as old as 17 still aren’t necessarily “emotionally mature enough to make” what it called “such a momentous decision.”

On its website, the law organization states that “parents often mistake strong feelings for maturity” when considering the custody preferences of children including older teens.

In California, where gender-altering procedures for minors are also permitted, a recent law was passed allowing family court judges to disfavor custody for parents who resist such treatments.

Mr. Rodriguez provided The Epoch Times with several studies showing higher suicide rates among those who undergo gender-altering surgeries.

A 30-year study conducted in Sweden tracked people who had had gender-altering surgeries. It found that the suicide rate was 19 times higher in those who had undergone the procedures.

The “transgender movement” is targeting kids with social and mental health problems and using suicide as a way to persuade adults, including parents, to buy into it, Mr. Rodriguez said.

“It’s nothing short of emotional blackmail,” he said.

Alice Giordano is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times. She is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and the New England bureau of The New York Times.