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Editorial: WV laws on transgender athletes under federal court scrutiny

The Wayne County News, HD Media

The status of West Virginia laws preventing transgender girls from participating on girls and women’s sports teams became less clear last week following a federal court decision on whether a middle schooler should be allowed to participate in cross country and track.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Tuesday that the state’s transgender ban cannot be applied to a 13-year-old who has been taking puberty-blocking medication and publicly identified as a girl since she was in the third grade.

The appeals court did not overturn West Virginia’s law on transgender athletes. It merely said the state and Harrison County violated the rights of Becky Pepper Jackson under Title IX. Jackson and her attorneys did not seek a ruling overturning the state law entirely.

Jackson — referred to in the ruling by her initials — began receiving puberty-blocking drugs before sex-based physical differences between boys and girls began to emerge, according to the decision.

“This matters because B.P.J. presented evidence that transgender girls with her background and characteristics possess no inherent, biologically-based competitive advantages over cisgender girls when participating in sports,” the court ruled.

“Because B.P.J. has never felt the effects of increased levels of circulating testosterone, the fact that those who do benefit from increased strength and speed provides no justification— much less a substantial one—for excluding B.P.J. from the girls cross country and track teams,” the court ruled.

As to the question of whether people whose sex is assigned male at birth but who have not fully gone through puberty still retain a physical competitive edge over girls, the court’s decision said, “We conclude there is a genuine dispute of material fact about this question …”

Because the case applied only to Jackson specifically, the overall ban on transgender girls in girls sports in West Virginia remains in place.

Read more: https://www.waynecountynews.com/opinion/editorial-wv-laws-on-transgender-athletes-under-federal-court-scrutiny/article_4735970c-4200-5409-a3c4-62281e31614e.html

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