Judge blocks state ban on female trans athletes

By Reader Staff

A federal judge placed a preliminary injunction Aug. 17 on a new Idaho law banning transgender female athletes from participating on publically funded sports teams.

Under HB 500, female athletes wanting to play sports at Idaho high schools or institutions at the NCAA, NAIA or NJCAA levels would need to prove their gender by undergoing a genital exam, receiving a DNA test or testing testosterone levels.

Bill sponsor Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, told the Idaho Falls Post Register during the 2020 legislative session that she didn’t see the bill as anti-trans, but rather an effort to keep sports fair for cisgendered females — that is, women who identify as women.

The ACLU of Idaho made a statement in February arguing that transitioning genders does not give a student athlete an “inherent competitive advantage.”

“This is another example of the Idaho Legislature attempting to solve problems that do not exist,” ACLU officials wrote at the time, “and are going to result in more expensive lawsuits for the state to defend.”

U.S. District Judge David Nye referred to a lawsuit from the ACLU in his ruling, stating that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed in establishing the [Fairness in Women’s Sports] Act is unconstitutional.”

“The defense costs arising from HB 500 are already substantial and continuing to mount. And yet we are told that the state is so cash-strapped it has no choice but to cut $99 million from our education budget and deny teachers the pay they were promised,” said House Assistant Majority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise. “It is long past time for the GOP supermajority to reset its priorities.”

The injunction comes a week after a federal judge announced that another anti-transgender Idaho law to come out of 2020 — which stopped people from changing the gender on their birth certificates — went against a court order from years past that determined such a law violated the Equal Protections Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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