BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Reverses West Virginia's Transgender Sports Ban -
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BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Reverses West Virginia’s Transgender Sports Ban

A federal appeals court in West Virginia has halted a state law preventing students from joining single-sex sports teams that don’t match with their biological sex.

On April 16, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ruling blocking the implementation of the Save Women’s Sports Bill.

The court found that the law infringed upon the constitutional rights of a 13-year-old eighth-grade track athlete, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the measure into law back in 2021. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) swiftly contested it in court.

They filed a lawsuit on behalf of Becky Pepper-Jackson, the transgender student who was barred from joining the girls’ cross-country team.

The ACLU argued that Becky Pepper-Jackson (identified as B.P.J. in court documents), diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2019, underwent puberty blockers and subsequent “gender-affirming” hormone therapy, thus bypassing male puberty. As a result, they argued she does not possess any athletic advantage over naturally-born girls.

The organization asserted that the West Virginia law unfairly targeted individuals like B.P.J., discriminating against them “based on sex and transgender status.”

They argued that this violated the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, specifically the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from denying any person within their jurisdiction “equal protection of the laws.”

In his 21-page ruling, Judge Goodwin pointed out that not all transgender girls undergo puberty blockers like B.P.J. He argued that a law protecting female sports and athletes based on biological sex classifications holds validity because “biological males generally outperform females athletically.”

He further emphasized the government’s significant interest in “providing equal athletic opportunities for females.”

Upon appeal, the 4th Circuit reinstated Judge Goodwin’s original injunction, temporarily halting the law once more. This decision was then taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to remove the injunction and revive the transgender sports ban.

As a result, B.P.J. was permitted to continue competing on the girls’ team, while the case was effectively sent back to the 4th Circuit for a final resolution.

In October 2023, the 4th Circuit heard oral arguments in the case and finally issued its verdict on April 16, 2024. The court overturned the transgender sports ban, declaring it in breach of Title IX safeguards.

“The Act’s sole purpose—and its sole effect—is to prevent transgender girls from playing on girls teams,” 4th Circuit Judge Toby Heytens, a Biden appointee, wrote in the 68-page ruling.

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