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Judge Blocks Law Banning Trans Women From Sports in Idaho

In case brought by trans athlete Lindsay Hecox, a federal judge blocks HB500 signed by Gov. Brad Davis

A federal judge in Boise has temporarily blocked a controversial law in Idaho that banned trans athletes from participation in school sports. In the case of Hecox v. Little, U.S. District Judge David Nye granted a temporary injunction against HB500, known officially as The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. The bill, which Governor Brad Little signed into law this past March, allowed for internal and external verification of a disputed athlete’s reproductive system.

“I feel a major sense of relief,” Lindsay Hecox, the student-athlete plaintiff in the case who hopes to compete on the track and cross-country teams at BSU, said in a statement. “I love running, and part of what I enjoy about the sport is building relationships with a team.”

Hecox is challenging the law on constitutional grounds, saying it violates her 4th amendment rights against illegal search and seizure, and also her 14th amendment rights guaranteeing equal protection under the law. HB500 allows for intrusive bodily searches and also treats trans athletes differently than cisgender athletes.

The suit was filed in federal district court by the ACLU and the ACLU of Idaho, Legal Voice, and Cooley LLP. While the injunction is only temporary, the parties were enthused with the judge’s decision and hailed it as a step forward in the fight for inclusion and against transphobia.

“School sports are about participation. All women and girls should be able to play without invasive testing,” Legal Voice’s Catherine West said in a statement.

“Transgender people belong in Idaho, including on school sports teams,” Ritchie Eppink, legal director for the ACLU of Idaho, said in a statement.

The ruling was not a complete victory for Hecox, though. While the defense lost on its bid to throw out the case entirely, the court allowed two cisgender female athletes from Idaho State University to intervene in the case supporting the law. Madison Kenyon and Mary Kate Marshall claim it is unfair they must compete against trans athletes.

The Idaho ruling comes against the backdrop of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

While only a temporary injunction, Hecox remains optimistic for the future, and she is adamant that she belongs on the girls’ team.

“I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls’ team,” Hecox said. “It’s time courts recognize that and I am so glad that the court’s ruling does.”

RELATED | Idaho Progresses Bill Banning Trans Athletes From Sports

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