Federal Appeals Court Reverses Decision on West Virginia Transgender Sports Ban

Federal Appeals Court Reverses Decision on West Virginia Transgender Sports Ban

A federal appeals court has overturned a West Virginia transgender sports ban, stating that the law violates Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. The ruling blocks a West Virginia law that banned transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams. The court specifically mentioned that 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.

Sports participation has become a major battleground in recent years over the role of transgender individuals in U.S. public life. Many Republican-controlled states have imposed restrictions on participation and bans on gender-affirming health care for minors. Additionally, several states have placed limitations on bathrooms and locker rooms that transgender individuals can use, especially in schools.

West Virginia is one of at least 24 states with laws prohibiting transgender women and girls from competing in women’s or girls’ sports competitions. These bans are in place in several other states as well. Judges in Arizona, Idaho, and Utah have temporarily halted enforcement of similar bans, while a ban in Ohio is set to take effect later this month. The Biden administration originally intended to release a new federal Title IX rule addressing campus sexual assault and transgender athletes, but the rule has since been split into separate rules, with the athletics rule currently being held up.

In the past year, several appeals courts have weighed in on similar cases. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision blocking a ban on transgender athletes competing in girls and women’s sports in Idaho, while the 2nd Circuit ruled differently in a challenge to Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender girls to compete in girls sports. The case was revived and sent back to a lower court without ruling on its merits.

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