Madison residents marched from Dayton Street up to the State Capitol on Friday to advocate for transgender rights and bring awareness to discrimination against the Wisconsin transgender community.
Once the march fed into the Capitol Square, about 100 protestors began a rally at 6 p.m. which continued into the night. They were protesting against a set of GOP bills that would ban transgender students from girls and women’s sports in the state of Wisconsin from elementary school to college.
Protestors also gathered at the Capitol when the bills were introduced on March 3. The Wisconsin LGBTQ Caucus called the legislation “cruel and discriminatory.”
Even if the bill is passed in the Republican-controlled legislature, it is likely that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would use his veto power to overrule it. Evers tweeted in support of transgender kids after the bills were introduced.
Even so, activists find this bill to be another example of pushing hate against the transgender community.
Oliver, a Madison resident and protestor on Friday said, “The Republicans just try to push so much anti-trans stuff, and we know it's not going to pass. But we still need to be out here because people think Madison is a safe place for trans people and it's not. I’ve experienced a lot of discrimination.”
Oliver didn’t expect much substantial change to come from the protest, but was excited at the prospect of meeting other organizers and making connections. In terms of policy changes, though, they have low expectations.
Miles Medina, a member of the transgender community and protestor described what he hoped for the night.
“I hope to see visibility around the issue, that's all you can hope for when you come out and march, that people take the cause seriously,” Medina said.
Aku Oko, another protestor, explained his personal reasoning for coming out.
“I am here because I am considered less than a person sometimes depending upon who I’m talking to,” Oko said.
Aku also came out for the summer Black Lives Matter protests and said he experienced police brutality,
“On May 30 last year, I was beaten by cops and almost killed along with a couple other people next to me and if nobody cared then, then I don’t know what's going to happen now.”
The bills are also moving through other state legislatures. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed the measure Thursday, according to the New York Times. Idaho passed a law preventing transgender women from participating in women’s sports, but a federal judge halted the ban in August.
The AP reported that state lawmakers around the country sponsoring the measures in most cases could not cite local examples of when transgender students participating in sports has caused problems.