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Federal judge stops Idaho from enforcing transgender student-athlete ban

Boise, Idaho — A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary injunction to stop Idaho from enacting a law banning transgender girls and women from participating in women's sports while a legal challenge moves forward. 

The ruling means transgender athletes wanting to participate in sports that match their gender identity can do so this fall at the college and secondary school level, The Idaho Statesman reported.

U.S. District Judge David Nye, in Idaho, ruled that a preliminary injunction is warranted because the plaintiffs are likely to win in court as part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of the law.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a student at Boise State University who is transgender and had been planning to try out for the cross country team, and an unnamed Boise High School student who is cisgender and concerned about being subjected to the law's invasive "sex verification" testing, according to the ACLU.

The law disallowing transgender athletes from playing on a team matching their gender identity contains a provision allowing anyone to challenge a person's identity. It then would be incumbent upon the athletes to verify their gender through an exam or genetic testing.

Nye said the law's ban on transgender athletes "stands in stark contrast to the policies of elite athletic bodies that regulate sports both nationally and globally."

"I feel a major sense of relief," Hecox said Monday in a news release. "I'm a girl, and the right team for me is the girls' team. It's time courts recognize that and I am so glad that the court's ruling does."

In March, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed the measure, passed by Republicans during the 2020 state legislative session, into law despite warnings from legal experts that it wasn't likely to survive court challenges.

Supporters said the law was needed because transgender female athletes have physical advantages.

CBS Boise affiliate KBOI-TV quotes Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for The  Alliance Defending Freedom as saying, "Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls' sports diminishes women's athletic opportunities and destroys fair competition."

It's the second time this month a federal judge has effectively rejected a new anti-transgender law in Idaho. Last week, U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale said the state's latest attempt to ban transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificate violates a court order she issued two years ago stopping a similar law.

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