MADISON - Assembly Republicans approved bills Wednesday that would ban transgender athletes from competing in girls' and women's athletics — proposals that have pushed Wisconsin into a national firestorm.
Passage of the legislation came amid opposition from nearly 30 organizations, including the statewide body that regulates high school sports and the state's Big Ten Conference university.
Backers of the bills said they would ensure girls and women don't face unfair competition.
"These bills are about fairness and inclusion, making room in competitive sports for everyone to feel comfortable," said Rep. Barbara Dittrich, an Oconomowoc Republican and lead sponsor of the measures.
"This is political theater that has turned into an exercise in cruelty and harm for young people and children in Wisconsin," said Democratic Rep. Lee Snodgrass of Appleton.
"Winning is always more fun — but let's not lose sight of what athletics are about," said Democratic Rep. Mark Spreitzer of Beloit. "Most young people play sports because they enjoy the game, they enjoy being part of a team. They enjoy themselves and they enjoy competition. And these bills would deny those opportunities to transgender youth."