Appeals court overturns West Virginia law banning transgender girls from sports teams

A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned the West Virginia law banning transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, finding that it violates Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. The ruling comes amid a wave of anti-trans legislation cropping up across the country, as well as efforts to fight back against it.

The ban in West Virginia was originally signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice in 2021, and introduced as the “Save Women’s Sports Act.” It required that any official or unofficial school-sanctioned event involving athletics determine each athlete’s participation in the event “based on the athlete’s biological sex as indicated on the athlete’s original birth certificate issued at the time of birth,” effectively barring transgender students from participating.

The ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law cannot lawfully be applied to a 13-year-old girl who has been taking puberty-blocking medication and publicly identified as a girl since she was in the third grade.

In February 2023, the court blocked the state’s bid to kick Becky Pepper Jackson off of her middle school track and field team if the law were enforced.

Judge Toby Heytens wrote that offering her a “choice” between not participating in sports and participating only on boys teams “is no real choice at all.”

“The defendants cannot expect that B.P.J. will countermand her social transition, her medical treatment, and all the work she has done with her schools, teachers, and coaches for nearly half her life by introducing herself to teammates, coaches, and even opponents as a boy,” Heytens wrote.

A pedestrian passes by the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Courthouse on Main Street in Richmond, Virginia, in 2021.
Steve Helber / AP

Source link