A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a decision blocking Idaho’s first trial in the country Ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sport.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s injunction against the 2020 law that would ban transgender women and girls from playing on women’s sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities become.
The judges ruled that the ban discriminated not only against transgender women but against all women, citing a statute provision that allows anyone to challenge the gender of an Idaho athlete. This provision would require the athlete to verify their gender through medical procedures, including pelvic exams.
The court stated that the law “continues historic discrimination against both cisgender and transgender women by categorically barring transgender women from athletic competitions and subjecting all women to an invasive sex dispute review process.”
The ruling follows an historic spate of new state legislation across the country restricting the rights of transgender people, particularly transgender youth. More than 20 states have enacted similar sports restrictions since Idaho’s Republican lawmakers arrived in North Carolina on Wednesday enacted the recent sports restriction, which overturns Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto on that measure and two other bills targeting the rights of transgender youth.
“The Idaho ban and all similar bans are designed to alienate and stigmatize transgender people, and we will never stop fighting until all transgender youth are given the level playing field they deserve,” said Chase Strangio, Associate Director of Transgender Justice at the Liberties Union’s American Civil LGBTQ and HIV Project.
The ACLU challenged the ban on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a transgender student at Boise State University who had planned to try her hand at cross country and association soccer. A cisgender high school athlete had also objected to the ban because of the “gender verification” test provision.
A federal judge blocked the law in 2020. Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed the measure, passed by Republicans during the 2020 state legislature, was signed into law, although legal experts warned it was unlikely to survive court challenges. Little’s office and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to messages Thursday afternoon.
Supporters of the bans said they were necessary to create a level playing field and protect athletes’ access to scholarships. However, the appeals court said there was no evidence that a transgender woman in Idaho received an athletic scholarship in place of a cisgender woman.
A proposed rule The ban, unveiled by the Biden administration in April, would bar schools from banning transgender athletes outright, but would allow teams to set certain limits in certain cases. The proposal sparked outrage among Conservatives. But it also angered transgender advocates, who note it would discourage some transgender athletes from competing.