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Judge blows up West Virginia, declares trans girl allowed to compete on cross country team

A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily barred West Virginia from banning a transgender girl from her school’s sports teams, in effect saying the state’s discriminatory law passed earlier this year was unenforceable.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin has issued a preliminary injunction, stating that Becky Pepper-Jackson, 11, should be allowed to compete on her school’s women’s cross-country team while the case is pending. The lawsuit was filed shortly after West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) enacted the anti-trans sports bill in April, which bans trans girls from participating in college and high school sports teams. public or state universities. At the time, justice said it was the “right thing to do”.

The Southern District Judge for West Virginia rejected the notion, saying the law likely violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause and the government’s Title IX requirements.

“Fear of the unknown and uneasiness in the face of the unknown have motivated many of the most evil deeds committed by our country’s governments on their own citizens,” Goodwin wrote in his ruling. “Out of fear of those less like them, the powerful made laws that restricted who could attend which schools, who could work certain jobs, who could marry whom, and even how people could practice their religion. “

He added: “I have been given little evidence that this law solves any problem, let alone a significant problem. “

His decision on Wednesday applies only to the Pepper-Jackson case, but the judge has left the door open to protecting other student-athletes as the lawsuit progresses. The girl’s legal team had sought a temporary injunction as cross-country training begins this month at her school, Politico noted.

Pepper-Jackson said on Wednesday she was excited about the move, which was hailed by human rights groups who noted similar Republican-led bills have been stalled in Idaho. and Connecticut.

“I’m thrilled to know that I will be able to try out for the women’s cross country team and keep up with my family’s running shoes,” she said in a statement. “It hurts that the state of West Virginia is trying to stop me from chasing my dreams. I just wanna play. “

Across the country, Republicans have introduced a series of laws designed to restrict the rights of transgender youth. The bills – at least 19 of which have already passed – focus primarily on two efforts: banning trans children from competing on school sports teams or limiting medically necessary health care.

The measures rely largely on conservative dog whistles on transgender people, despite a multitude of studies showing that access to medical care is a critical need for trans youth. Major pediatric groups have lambasted the GOP’s efforts as harmful to children, saying the bills are largely based on misinformation and negative tropes.

The judge wrote on Wednesday that such efforts appeared to be a violation of the rights of all Americans, citing poet Langston Hughes in his ruling.

“It is clearly in the public interest to defend [the plaintiff’s] constitutional right not to be treated differently from peers in the same situation because any prejudice to [her] personal rights is a prejudice to the share of American rights that we all collectively hold, ”Goodwin wrote.


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