Judge suspends law banning trans women from sports

Republican governor Brad Little’s bill focusing on attacking trans people has been suspended.

An Idaho judge has granted an injunction against enforcement of the state’s discriminatory law excluding trans athletes from the student sports teams corresponding to their true gender.

The anti-trans bill, HB500, was signed into law by Republican governor Brad Little in the midst of the pandemic in March, alongside its sister bill HB509 that bars trans people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate.

In June, a judge ruled that HB509 is a violation of transgender people’s constitutional rights, in a lawsuit filed against Idaho by LGBT+ advocacy group Lambda Legal.

And on Monday (August 17), another lawsuit against the anti-trans laws saw victory as a judge granted an injunction against enforcement of HB500 pending a case against it being heard in court.

District court judge David Nye said that the state’s interest was not justifiable but rather “an invalid interest of excluding transgender women and girls from women’s sports entirely”.

Nye’s order recognises that both HB500 and HB509 were not motivated by legitimate policy goals but purely “motivated by a desire for transgender exclusion”, said the Human Rights Campaign, one of the organisations fighting Idaho’s laws in court.

“Today’s decision is a huge, positive step forward for transgender athletes in Idaho and around the country,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

“Everyone should be able to play sports, and gender identity should not be a barrier to participation.

“We’re hopeful that the court will ultimately make the right decision to strike down HB500 in totality, so that athletes such as Lindsay Hecox and others can continue to excel at the sports they’ve poured themselves into, without having their identities used as a wedge against them.”

Idaho anti-trans laws would put athletes at risk of genital exams.

HB500 would place an outright ban on trans girls and women playing on female sports teams, and would place all female athletes at risk of invasive genital examinations to “prove” that they are not trans before being allowed to play.

Judge Nye’s decision comes as athletes in Idaho begin preparing for the sports season ahead – including Lindsay Hecox, a cross-country runner on Boise State University’s women’s track team and one of the plaintiffs suing Idaho over its anti-trans law.

Before the judge granted the injunction against HB500, Hecox would have been prohibited from participating in the upcoming athletic season.

This would have put Idaho in conflict with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s own trans-inclusive policy.

As the judge noted, HB500 puts Idaho in “stark contrast to the policies of elite athletic bodies… which allow transgender women to participate on female sports teams once certain specific criteria are met”.

Idaho is the first and only state to categorically ban trans women from participating in women’s sports.


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