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West Virginia anti-trans sports ban temporarily blocked by federal judge

In a 15-page preliminary injunction, District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin handed a temporary victory to Becky Pepper-Jackson, 11, a transgender athlete who, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, LGBTQ advocacy group Lambda Legal and Cooley LLP, sued the state in May over its ban on playing sports. Becky is referred to in the lawsuit as BPJ, but is named and quoted in ACLU press releases.

“At this point, I have been provided with little evidence that this law solves any problem, let alone a significant problem,” Goodwin wrote in his ruling.

The ruling means West Virginia must stop enforcing the ban, which went into effect earlier this month, while the lawsuit awaits a final ruling. It also means that Becky “will be allowed to register and participate in school sports in the same way as her classmates,” the judge wrote.
“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,” Becky said in a statement. “It hurts the state of West Virginia trying to stop me from chasing my dreams. I just want to play.”
The ruling comes the same day another federal judge awarded Arkansas trans youth a victory when he temporarily barred the state from enforcing a gender-affirming treatment ban on minors in the state.

LGBTQ advocates were quick to applaud West Virginia’s decision, noting it could pave the way for similar rulings in cases involving other anti-trans laws. So far this year, Alabama, Florida, South Dakota, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Montana have enacted similar sports bans.

“We hope the courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these brutal attacks on trans youth,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, lawyer at Lambda Legal, in a statement.

Goodwin wrote in his ruling that “forcing a girl to compete on the boys ‘team when a girls’ team is available would cause her unnecessary distress and stigma,” adding that it would also create confusion for coaches and teammates.

“And not only would BPJ be completely excluded from women’s sports, she would be excluded because of who she is: a transgender girl.”

Some state lawmakers across the country have argued that allowing transgender athletes to compete raises issues of fairness in athletics. Before Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the state’s ban in late April, he argued that approving it was “the right thing to do.”

“I’m absolutely all in it, because I don’t think from our girls’ point of view, we should allow a situation where, you know, for some reason we end up with a top athlete who might just take our girls in the competition, “he said at a press conference.

Loree Stark, chief legal officer for the West Virginia ACLU, said in a statement Wednesday that “we have said throughout this cruel legislation will not survive legal challenge, and we are encouraged by the court’s decision today. ‘hui “.

“We hope that trans children across West Virginia who have felt attacked and harmed by the passage of this legislation feel empowered by today’s news,” she added.

CNN has contacted the Justice Office for comment, as well as West Virginia House Education President Joe Ellington, a Republican who was one of the bill’s sponsors.


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