Federal Judge Blocks West Virginia Transgender Athlete Law

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People protest Trump administration’s reported transgender proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female outside City Hall in New York City, October 24, 2018. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a West Virginia law barring male students from competing in girls sports.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed challenged the law, known as H.B. 3293, on behalf of an eleven-year-old transgender girl attempting to join a girls cross country team. The lawsuit contended that the H.B. 3293 “discriminates  on  the  basis  of  sex  and  transgender  status  in  violation  of  the United States Constitution and Title IX.”

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Judge Joseph Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia granted a preliminary injunction against the law to allow the case to make its way through the court system.

Goodwin “determined that Plaintiff has a likelihood of success in demonstrating that this statute is unconstitutional as it applies to her and that it violates Title IX,” he wrote in his ruling.

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“Those standing in opposition to this law assert that it was enacted to incite fear and exclude certain persons rather than to address a legitimate government interest,” Goodwin wrote. “At this point, I have been provided with scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all, let alone an important problem.”

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the case in June, saying that H.B. 3293 may violate Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

West Virginia governor Jim Justice signed the law in May, while noting that collegiate athletics associations could boycott the state in response.

“It concerns me that we may miss out on a really important sporting event or something like that that could come to West Virginia,” Justice said at the time. “However, I think the benefits of it way outweigh the bad part of it.”

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