West Virginia can keep transgender sports ban, judge says

Jan 5, 2023, 1:19 AM | Updated: 4:53 pm
FILE - Gov. Jim Justice, center, speaks to Merl Wooten, owner of Wooten Machine Co., left, and Dr. ...

FILE - Gov. Jim Justice, center, speaks to Merl Wooten, owner of Wooten Machine Co., left, and Dr. Matthew Rohrbach while visiting community members on May 9, 2022, in Huntington, W.Va. Justice said Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, that he will announce a plan to cut taxes during his State of the State address on Jan. 11. (Ryan Fischer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP, File)

(Ryan Fischer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s ban on transgender athletes competing in female school sports is constitutional and can remain in place, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

“I recognize that being transgender is natural and is not a choice,” U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin wrote in his decision. “But one’s sex is also natural, and it dictates physical characteristics that are relevant to athletics.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and its West Virginia chapter filed the lawsuit in 2021 on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl who hoped to compete in middle school cross-country in Harrison County. The lawsuit named the state and county boards of education and their superintendents as defendants.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey applauded the decision Thursday.

“This is not only about simple biology, but fairness for women’s sports, plain and simple,” the attorney general said. “Opportunities for girls and women on the field are precious and we must safeguard that future.”

The ACLU of West Virginia said it was reviewing the decision with co-counsel to determine next steps. The ban applies to middle and high schools, as well as colleges.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit did not challenge whether schools should be allowed to have separate sports teams for males and females, and Goodwin was tasked with determining whether the Legislature’s definition of the terms “girl” and “woman” is constitutionally permissible. The Save Women’s Sports Bill signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice says they mean anyone assigned the female gender at birth.

“The legislature’s definition of ‘girl’ as being based on ‘biological sex’ is substantially related to the important government interest of providing equal athletic opportunities for females,” Goodwin determined.

The judge also rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the state law violated Title IX, the landmark gender equity legislation enacted in 1972.

Goodwin had issued a preliminary injunction in July 2021 temporarily blocking the state ban.

In his Thursday decision, he said the plaintiff, “like all transgender people, deserves respect and the ability to live free from judgment and hatred for simply being who she is.” But he did not find sufficient evidence that lawmakers passed the legislation with harmful intent.

Goodwin noted that at the time the measure was passed, there were no widespread reports of transgender girls participating in sports. It was apparent, he said, “that the statute is at best a solution to a potential, but not yet realized ‘problem.'”

Had the legislature not done so, there would have been no reason for the court to weigh in on the issue, he continued. “Nevertheless,” the judge concluded, “I must do so now.”

Transgender athletes’ ability to compete in sports is the subject of a continuing national debate. More than a dozen states have passed laws banning or restricting their participation based on the premise that they have an unfair competitive advantage, despite a lack of widespread cases.

The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, which oversees scholastic sports, said in 2021, when the suit was filed, that it had not received any complaints about transgender athletes on girls’ teams.

A 2017 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law used state-level, population-based surveys to estimate that West Virginia had the highest percentage (1.04%) of residents ages 13 to 17 among all states who identified as transgender. That equated to about 1,150 teens.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Grey clouds cover the sky over a building of the Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland, ...
Associated Press

Credit Suisse posts $1.4B pre-tax loss as woes go on in 4Q

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse on Thursday reported a pre-tax loss of more than 1.3 billion Swiss francs (about $1.4 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, as its new managers vie to right the top-drawer Swiss bank that has faced a string of setbacks in recent years. The bank also announced the $175 […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

3 dead in apartment building fire in Novosibirsk, Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — A gas explosion in an apartment building in the south-central Russian city of Novosibirsk Thursday morning killed three people, according to the latest reports from local authorities. Novosibirsk is the administrative capital of Siberia and Russia’s third-largest city by population. Regional Gov. Andrey Travnikov confirmed the deaths of three people, noting that […]
1 day ago
FILE - A staff of Nissan car showroom wipes a car on Jan. 31, 2022, in Tokyo. Nissan reported a 55%...
Associated Press

Japan’s Nissan reports better profit as chip crunch eases

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan reported a 55% jump in October-December profit Thursday, as the Japanese automaker seeks to embark on a less bumpy journey with its French alliance partner Renault. Profit for the quarter at Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. totaled 50.6 billion yen ($386 million), up from 32.7 billion yen the previous year. Quarterly sales […]
1 day ago
Search teams and emergency aid from around the world are pouring into
Turkey and Syria as rescuers ...
Associated Press

Afghan women, children chase false rumor to Kabul airport

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Hundreds of Afghans, including women and children, dashed toward the Kabul airport after a false rumor spread that flights were leaving for Turkey to help rescue earthquake victims. Videos and photos posted on social media since Wednesday showed dozens of desperate people running on foot in the darkness and cold towards the […]
1 day ago
People warm up with fire in front of destroyed buildings in Antakya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Fe...
Associated Press

Live Updates I Turkish president to visit quake-hit areas

Rescuers pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings Thursday, but hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive more than three days after a catastrophic earthquake and series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 16,000. The earthquake that razed thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria […]
1 day ago
FILE - Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning gestures during a press conference at the Min...
Associated Press

Beijing calls US claims over balloons ‘information warfare’

BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday said U.S. accusations that a downed Chinese balloon was part of an extensive surveillance program amount to “information warfare against China.” The Pentagon on Wednesday said the Chinese balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast Saturday was part of a program involving a number of such airships that […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
West Virginia can keep transgender sports ban, judge says