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Federal judge in Idaho stops state from implementing ban on transgender athletes

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 17:58:04-04

This article was originally published by Jim Keyser in the Idaho Statesman.

A federal judge in Idaho has issued a temporary injunction to keep the state from implementing a controversial law banning transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports while a legal challenge moves forward.

The ruling means that transgender athletes wanting to participate in sports that match their gender identity will be able to this fall at both the college and secondary school level.

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

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.” Nye also noted that the law “establishes a ‘dispute’ process that allows a currently undefined class of individuals to challenge a student’s sex.”

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.

The law did not include transgender men and boys.

The athlete law was one of two anti-transgender measures that Idaho Republicans pushed through the Legislature in the 2020 session. Both were signed into law by Gov. Brad Little despite warnings from legal experts, including the Idaho Attorney General’s Office, that neither was likely to survive court challenges.

The other law, which prevented transgender people from changing their birth certificate to match their gender identity, has already been shelved by an Idaho judge who ruled that its implementation violated an injunction she first issued in 2018.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect Judge David Nye is a U.S. District Judge.