Court Blocks Law Banning Biological Men From Competing In Women’s Sports

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that a law banning biological men from playing in women’s sports be blocked on Tuesday.

H.B. 3293, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, passed the West Virginia Legislature in 2021 and required public schools and public universities to bar “students of the male sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport” from competing in women’s sports. In a 2 to 1 decision, however, the court claimed that the law violated Title IX, which prohibits schools from engaging in sex-based discrimination. (RELATED: Supreme Court Lets Red State Enforce Ban On Child Sex Changes)

“Because West Virginia law and practice have long provided for sex-differentiated sports teams, the Act’s sole purpose—and its sole effect—is to prevent transgender girls from playing on girls teams,” the opinion says. “The question before us is whether the Act may lawfully be applied to prevent a 13-year-old transgender girl who takes puberty-blocking medication and has publicly identified as a girl since the third grade from participating in her school’s cross country and track teams. We hold it cannot.”

The American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit against the legislation in May 2021 on behalf of 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson, a biological male who identifies as transgender. In 2023, the court granted an emergency temporary injunction to prevent the school from taking Pepper-Jackson off the girls’ track team and the Supreme Court declined in April of that same year to overturn the temporary injunction.

The court argued in its decision that West Virginia’s law discriminates against Pepper-Jackson by definition since it excludes ” transgender girls from the definition of ‘female.'”

“If B.P.J. were a cisgender girl, she could play on her school’s girls teams,” the court wrote. “Because she is a transgender girl, she may not. The Act declares a person’s sex is defined only by their “reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” § 18-2-25d(b)(1). The undisputed purpose—and the only effect—of that definition is to exclude transgender girls from the definition of ‘female’ and thus to exclude them from participation on girls sports teams. That is a facial classification based on gender identity. And, under this Court’s binding precedent, such classifications trigger intermediate scrutiny.”

Currently, 24 states have enacted bans on biological males participating in women’s and girls’ sports.

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