A federal judge has ruled that West Virginia’s ban on transgender athletes competing in female sports is constitutional and can remain in place.
Thursday’s decision was made in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and their state chapter.
The lawsuit was filed in 2021 on behalf of an 11-year-old child claiming to be transgender. The student had wanted to participate in their middle school cross-country in Harrison County but was not allowed to play against students of the opposite biological sex.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the Save Women’s Sports Bill, HB3293, into law in April, which required single-sex participation in interscholastic athletic events.
“I recognize that being transgender is natural and is not a choice,” U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin wrote in his decision, according to a report from the Times Union. “But one’s sex is also natural, and it dictates physical characteristics that are relevant to athletics.”
“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 continued.
Goodwin, who had previously halted the legislation while the case went to trial, found that it did not violate Title IX.
The ACLU had previously celebrated Goodwin’s temporary block.
“We’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today,” ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark said in a statement at the time. “We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news.”
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has been a fierce defender of women’s and girls’ sports and celebrated the decision.
“This is not only about simple biology, but fairness for women’s sports, plain and simple,” the attorney general said, according to the Times Union report. “Opportunities for girls and women on the field are precious, and we must safeguard that future.”
Over a dozen states have blocked or restricted biological males from participating in girls and women’s sports.