ACLU sues to challenge Idaho’s trans athlete ban

When Idaho Governor Brad Little signed two draconian anti-trans bills into state law — on the eve of Transgender Day of Visibility, no less — it was a disheartening and infuriating moment for anyone who believes in equality and inclusion.

One of those laws, known as HB 500, made Idaho the first state in the union to pass an outright ban on transgender athletes competing in school sports according to their gender identity.

This afternoon, trans rights activists and allies took a major step forward in fighting back. This afternoon, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the trans athlete ban.

HB 500 specifically singles out transgender women and girls by prohibiting them from competing against cis women at every school throughout the state.

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Idaho governor Brad Little and associates.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the ACLU’s press release, senior staff attorney Gabriel Arkles declared, “We’re suing because HB 500 illegally targets women and girls who are transgender and intersex and subjects all female athletes to the possibility of invasive genital and genetic screenings.”

Those screenings play a major role in the suit as the ACLU is filing it on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a trans track athlete at Boise State University, as well as a cisgender athlete at Boise High School. According to the press release, the latter is “concerned about being subjected to invasive ‘sex verification’ testing under the new law.”

As for Hecox, she declared, “I just want to run with other girls on the team. I run for myself, but part of what I enjoy about the sport is building the relationships with a team. I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls’ team.”

The ACLU is far from the only group of legal experts who have raised significant objections to the new laws. The Idaho Statesman’s Cynthia Sewell reported that five former Idaho Attorneys General had sent a joint letter to Governor Little urging him to veto the legislation when it was still being considered.

Within that letter, the AGs noted that “The more serious concern is apparent conflict with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, but other provisions of federal law are implicated.”

The other new law is HB 509, which bans any changes on the gender marker of a birth certificate after the first year. Both laws are set to go into effect July 1. Conservative legislators tried once before with the gender marker law, in 2018, but it was struck down by a U.S. District Court.

All this apparently was not enough to dissuade Little from signing the two bills into law. And now, the ACLU is expected to soon see his state in court.


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