Arizona's Transgender Sports Ban Blocked by Federal Judge


Rita Keszthelyi of Hungary during the World Aquatics Championships 2023 Women's match between Hungary and Spain on July 24, 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan.
(Photo by Albert ten Hove/BSR Agency/Getty Images)


A federal judge in Tucson has temporarily blocked Arizona from implementing a law that prevents transgender individuals from participating in girls’ school sports teams, following a lawsuit filed on behalf of two prepubescent transgender students. This law, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” was introduced in an attempt to restrict access to sports teams based on sex at birth, a move that several states have adopted.

The lawsuit represents a 15-year-old who aims to participate in the school girls’ volleyball team and an 11-year-old who wishes to compete in girls’ soccer, basketball, and cross-country events. According to the lawsuit, forcing these students to join boys’ teams would be a distressing and embarrassing experience, contradicting their ongoing medical treatment for gender dysphoria.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who is defending the case, is optimistic about an appeal. He asserted, “The United States Supreme Court will ultimately decide this, and they will rule in our favor.” Horne argues that the law complies with federal regulations, offering equal opportunities to boys and girls. He also contends that allowing biologically male students to compete in girls’ sports can place female athletes at a disadvantage.

However, those opposing the law claim it infringes on the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution, Title IX, and the Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts. Rachel Berg, staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, argues, “This law bans transgender girls from competing with other girls in every sport, at every grade level, and regardless of each girl’s individual circumstances. It cannot survive constitutional scrutiny and endangers transgender children.”

The preliminary injunction was issued by Judge Jennifer G. Zipps, who rejected the argument that transgender girls who never experienced male puberty pose an unfair advantage or safety risk in girls’ sports. She wrote, “[S]ummarizing evidence makes it highly likely that the sex difference in circulating testosterone of adults explains most, if not all, of the sex differences in sporting performance.” She further stated that preventing these transgender girls from joining girls’ teams could lead to “severe and irreparable mental, physical, and emotional harm.”

The verdict could set a precedent for similar cases nationwide, impacting the future of transgender youth participation in sports.


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