Let transgender student play on girls’ team, says federal government, backing lawsuit against state law
West Virginia law that prohibits transgender girls from playing on women’s sports teams violates Title IX and the equal protection clause of the US Constitution, the US Department of Justice said Thursday.
Justice Department sided with 11-year-old girl who pursued his state’s new law, one in a wave of at least seven similar measures adopted by states across the country this year.
The arguments, outlined in an âexpression of interest,â are one of the most direct challenges the Biden administration has posed to state-level restrictions on transgender students to date.
âOf course, there are still significant barriers to full equity in athletics for female students,â the Justice Department said in its file. “But allowing the participation of transgender girls, who make up ‘about half of one percent’ of the United States’ population, is not one of them.”
The brief, which argues that West Virginia’s law is based on “misinformation and fear,” is consistent with the administration’s stated position on the issue. It comes a day after the US Department of Education released a memo clarifying its position that Title IX sex discrimination protections prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The complainant in the case, Becky Pepper-Jackson, was assigned male at birth but identified as a girl in grade 3. Becky, who is 11 and started taking treatment to delay puberty last year, was part of a cheerleader team in Harrison County, West Virginia, and she hopes to compete in the college girls’ cross country team, according to her costume. .
But she will not be allowed to do so under the new state law, HB 3293. Because she cannot play on a team that matches her gender, she will effectively be barred from participating in sports. team throughout his K-12 experience, argued the Justice Department.
“BPJ is not looking to join the boys’ cross country and track teams because she is a girl and such participation would ‘devastate’ BPJ, ‘completely erase who she is’ and undermine her social transition,” says the legal file.
The agency’s legal arguments are based in part on the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia., which ruled that a ban on sex discrimination in Title VII, the Federal Employment Act, prohibits unequal treatment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Biden administration and several preliminary files in other cases have argued that this precedent should inform interpretations of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.
“The Supreme Court recently clarified that discrimination against a person because they are transgender is discrimination based on sex,” the file said, citing Bostock.
In addition, West Virginia law will unfairly affect girls, as it states that “sports teams or sports reserved for women, women or girls shall not be open to male students.” The law defines male as âthe sex assigned at birth,â effectively prohibiting transgender girls from participating in female sports, but it places no corresponding restrictions on transgender boys.
The restrictions in the law can also affect cisgender girls, the Justice Department argued, because girls who do not present themselves as “stereotypically female” may face eligibility or gender challenges.
The federal filing also questioned the motives of West Virginia’s bill sponsors, pointing to cases of “outright anti-transgender bias.”
For example, delegate Margitta Mazzoch, who co-sponsored the measure, said she did not “want all this mixing and matching” of transgender and cisgender children in “locker rooms,” the file said.
Supporters of similar bills across the country have said they are needed to ensure fairness in women’s sports. And some have questioned the legitimacy of transgender identity.
An attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that has advocated against transgender inclusion policies, criticized the Biden administration’s stance as “forcing radical gender identity ideology on ordinary Americans by rewriting effectively Title IX â.
The administration has yet to issue guidelines on how schools should welcome LGBTQ students or directly challenge any of the state’s new laws in court.
In addition to the West Virginia filing, the Justice Department also filed an Expression of Interest Thursday in a court challenge over an Arkansas law that bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth.