Trump administration asks court to maintain ban on transgender girls from school sports

APRIL 29, 2017: President Donald Trump speaks at the the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, PA
APRIL 29, 2017: President Donald Trump speaks at the the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, PA Photo: Shutterstock

The Trump administration is asking a federal court to allow states to ban transgender girls from competing in school sports.

The Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in Hecox v. Little, the lawsuit brought by Boise State University student Lindsay Hecox after Idaho passed a law that banned transgender women like her from competing in school and college sports as their gender.

Related: The NCAA might move college sports out of Idaho because of its law banning trans athletes

This past March, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed the law that banned transgender girls from school sports, with supporters of the bill saying that transgender girls competing in sports is “a new crisis.”

The law also allows for a female student athlete’s gender to be “challenged” and requires the athlete to undergo medical exams to “prove” it. A doctor, the law says, will have to examine the athlete’s genitalia, hormones, and DNA and make a determination of their gender, something that Democrats pointed out is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Hecox filed a lawsuit to overturn the new law with help from the ACLU, arguing that the law violates the rights of transgender students under Title IX, which bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in education. The law would ban her from participating in women’s sports because of her sex assigned at birth, which is a direct form of discrimination on the basis of sex.

A federal judge ordered an injunction on the law, barring it from going into effect, and now Donald Trump’s DOJ is getting involved. An amicus brief, signed by lawyers in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, argues that the court was wrong to allow transgender girls and women to compete as their gender in school sports because they are actually “biological males.”

Even though lawmakers who supported the law said that they supported it specifically because of the possibility of transgender girls and women competing in school sports, the DOJ argued that the law doesn’t even see transgender status as a thing and instead just bans all people assigned male at birth. So really, they argue, it’s the pro-transgender trial court that’s discriminating on the basis of gender identity.

“Indeed, it is the district court’s injunction — which creates a special exception allowing biological males to compete on female sports teams if and only if they are transgender — that discriminates on the basis of transgender status,” the brief says.

The DOJ also argues that the law is necessary because of the “physiological advantages of biological males.” The brief also denies that testosterone alone is the basis of such advantages, citing the Republican Idaho legislature’s declaration that even transgender women who undergo hormone replacement therapy would still have an advantage over cisgender women.

“The Trump administration is coming to an end the same way it started: by attacking transgender youth,” ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio told the Washington Blade. “Sweeping attacks on transgender people will ultimately fall in court and we will look back on the positions taken by the administration with great horror. The district court judge saw HB 500 was for what it is — unconstitutional discrimination against transgender student athletes and all women. We will continue to fight for Lindsay and other transgender athletes in Idaho.”

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