Scroll To Top

Idaho's Anti-Trans Sports Law Still Blocked After Appeals Court Ruling

Idaho's Anti-Trans Sports Law Still Blocked After Appeals Court Ruling

Brad Little and Lindsay Hecox
Brad Little by Lev Radin/Shutterstock; Lindsay Hecox by Joshua Roper/ACLU

“This is an important victory for common sense, equality, and the rights of transgender youth under the law,” the ACLU's Chase Strangio said.

A federal appeals court Thursday upheld a lower court’s injunction blocking Idaho’s anti-transgender sports law.

It means the law cannot be enforced while a suit against it is heard. Idaho in 2020 became the first state to enact such a law. It barred trans women and girls from competing in female sports in public schools and colleges, and barred many intersex athletes from competing as well.

Lindsay Hecox, a trans woman track athlete at Boise State University, filed the suit shortly after Republican Gov. Brad Little signed the legislation, along with Kayden Hulquist, a then-senior at Boise High School who is cisgender and was concerned about being subjected to the law’s invasive “sex verification” testing. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and its Idaho affiliate, Legal Voice, and Cooley LLP.

Idaho Chief U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye issued an injunction blocking the ban in August 2020. He noted that it appears to be on shaky constitutional ground. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has now affirmed his action.

“The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found, on the record before it, that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Act violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote in the Ninth Circuit order.

Twenty-two other states have enacted similar laws, some covering K-12 schools only, others including colleges and universities. Most of them are aimed at preventing trans female athletes from competing with cisgender girls and women, but some place restrictions on trans male athletes as well. Several are being challenged in court, and in West Virginia, the law is blocked from enforcement against the single plaintiff in the suit while it proceeds.

Hecox and Hulquist’s lawyers praised the Ninth Circuit’s decision. “This is an important victory for common sense, equality, and the rights of transgender youth under the law,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said in a press release. “The court found that transgender athletes like Lindsay face irreparable harm by a ban on their right to participate as who they are and held laws like Idaho’s not only target and discriminate against transgender women and girls but also discriminate against all women and girls. Idaho’s ban and all others like it are designed to alienate and stigmatize transgender people and we’ll never stop fighting until all transgender youth are given the equal playing field they deserve.”

“We are extremely gratified — for Lindsay, and for all trans youth — at the court’s recognition that the law and the facts strongly support treating people who are transgender fairly and equally,” added Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.

There has been no public comment yet from Little or from Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador. Attorney Christiana Kiefer of the anti-LGBTQ+ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, representing two cisgender female athletes who joined in defending the state’s law, issued this statement: “When our laws ignore biological reality and allow males to compete in women’s sports, women are harmed and denied athletic opportunities.”

However, in a 2021 interview with The Advocate,Hecox countered the notion of trans women having an unfair advantage over cis women. She didn’t make the Boise State women’s track team on first try. There were simply “too many good female athletes”" at Boise State, she said, adding, “I’m kind of good...but not elite.”

Pictured: Idaho Gov. Brad Little; athlete Lindsay Hecox

Advocate Magazine - Gio BenitezAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories