“We don’t like being in the spotlight,” Heather said. “We’re just rural West Virginia people, so it’s a little overwhelming. I’m nervous for her, because I know how much joy she gets from playing sports, and every child needs sports. It’s just a moral foundation that they need. They learn responsibility, camaraderie, they learn that people depend on them. And I see how much fun she is having.
Over the past three years, 23 states, plus West Virginia, have passed similar restrictions on trans student athletes, and many of their supporters make similar arguments to Justice: Trans girls have an inherent advantage about cisgender girls or those who are not. transgender. Courts temporarily blocked laws in West Virginia, Idaho and Arizona. A court also permanently blocked Montana’s law because it applies to middle schools, but not elementary and secondary schools.
Becky said it had been “disappointing” to see state after state pass restrictions on trans athletes during her trial. Heather said she was upset “because that seems to be the issue du jour.”
“Politicians are fighting for votes, and they’re jumping on the bandwagon without ever doing any research on their own, whereas if people just did their own research, the biology and science is there to prove what we’re looking for, ” Heather said. “We just want to be accepted, and she just wants to be a kid. It shouldn’t be this hard being a kid.
An “equal and fair playing field”
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, which represents Becky, argue that West Virginia’s law is discriminatory and violates Title IX, a federal law that protects students from discrimination based on sex, and the Equality Clause protection of the 14th Amendment.
At Friday’s hearing before the 4th Circuit, Becky’s attorney, Joshua Block of the ACLU, said Becky was given puberty-blocking drugs, which prevented her from going through puberty-induced puberty. testosterone and benefit from any potential physical advantage. West Virginia law, he argued, “goes out of its way to select criteria that do not create an athletic advantage but perfectly serve the function of excluding transgender students based on their transgender status.”
The law “could have been written to adopt criteria relevant to athletic performance, but that is not the case,” Block argued. “It selects criteria that define being transgender.”
Lindsay See, West Virginia’s solicitor general, argued that the district court, in ruling in favor of the law, “understood well that sports is a particularly strong argument for differences rooted in biology and calls for gender-based distinctions to help ensure a level playing field.
See also noted that the state’s and plaintiff’s experts have established that there is at least a slight inherent physical difference between trans girls and cisgender girls, even before puberty. According to See, this justifies the law. However, Block rebutted that the state’s expert acknowledged that the differences before puberty were “minimal.”
Block estimates the court could make its decision within the next three to six months.
“We really hope that the judges were able to recognize what this was, which was discrimination against trans girls based solely on the fact that they are trans,” he said during of a phone call after Friday’s hearing.