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Lawsuits & Litigation

Transgender Idaho Athlete’s Lawsuit to Move Forward

— April 15, 2022

The lawsuit poses a challenge to a recent state law prohibiting transgender women from participating in women’s athletics events sponsored by public schools, colleges, and universities.

A legal challenge to an Idaho law banning transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports will be allowed to proceed.

According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit can move forward now that all parties involved in the case can agree that the lead plaintiff is currently enrolled at Boise State University and participating in collegiate athletics.

Idaho, adds The Associated Press, was the first state in the nation to ban transgender women from participating in women’s athletic events sponsored by public schools, colleges, and universities.

Since Idaho’s law went into effect, other Republican-dominated states have emulated its example, passing transgender athletics bans of their own.

However, transgender woman and athlete Lindsay Hecox claims that these policies violate federal anti-discrimination lawsuits.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the non-profit women’s rights group Legal Voice on behalf of Hecox and a non-transgender, biological woman who fears that she could be subjected to “invasive” tests if anyone questions that she is, in fact, female.

Hecox and the anonymous second plaintiff said that Idaho’s law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

LGBTQ flag. Image via Quote Catalog, Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

They also claim the athletics ban violates the Fourth Amendment by requiring that athletes be subjected to “gender testing” if anyone challenges their biological sex.

Boise State Public Radio notes that the lawsuit was temporarily put on pause when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals questioned whether the case could proceed, as Hecox had, at that point, dropped out of Boise State after failing to qualify for its track and cross-country teams.

However, Hecox has since re-enrolled at the university and is playing for the women’s soccer team; she also plans to try out for the women’s cross-country team in fall.

Hecox’s attorneys say their client’s re-enrollment proves that the lawsuit can no longer be considered moot.

The Associated Press notes that advocates of Idaho’s ban on transgender athletes claim that allowing transgender women and girls to play on women’s teams would reverse or negate the progress women have made since federal legislation was passed in 1972 allowing women to play collegiate sports.

Opponents of the ban, meanwhile, say that it may violate Title IX protections against sex-based discrimination.

The East Idaho News reports that the N.C.A.A. has recently revised the rules governing the participation of transgender athletes in collegiate sports.

While the organization had earlier allowed transgender female athletes to participate in women’s sprots if they had undergone at least one year of hormone therapy, the N.C.A.A. has since allowed the “national governing body of each sport” to set its own policy for transgender athletes.


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