An appeals court has ruled West Virginia’s transgender sports ban violates the rights of a teen athlete under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools.

On Tuesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban cannot be applied to 13-year-old Becky Pepper Jackson.

The court previously blocked the state’s attempt to kick the teen from her middle school cross-country and track and field teams in February 2023.

This came after the American Civil Liberties Union, its West Virginia chapter and LGBTQ interest group Lambda Legal sued the state, country boards of education and their superintendents.

However, Tuesday’s decision does not overturn the ban, which was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice in 2021. For now, it applies only to Jackson’s case – but the law could be in limbo if other transgender student athletes choose to challenge it.

An appeals court has ruled that West Virginia’s transgender sports ban violates the rights of a 13-year-old athlete under Title IX (pictured: a protest at the state capitol in Charleston in 2023)

Tuesday’s decision does not overturn the ban, which was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice in 2021; rather, it applies only to the case of Becky Pepper Jackson

The court noted Jackson has lived as a girl for over five years. She began identifying as female in the third grade and has participated strictly on girls’ sports teams.

In addition to taking puberty blockers and estrogen hormone therapy, the student has legally changed her name, and the state of West Virginia has issued her a birth certificate listing her as female.

Offering the teen a ‘choice’ between not participating in sports and participating only on boys’ teams ‘is no real choice at all,’ Judge Toby Heytens wrote in the ruling.

‘The defendants cannot expect that B.P.J. will countermand her social transition, her medical treatment, and all the work she has done with her schools, teachers, and coaches for nearly half her life by introducing herself to teammates, coaches, and even opponents as a boy,’ Heytens wrote.

In a statement, ACLU West Virginia attorney Josh Block deemed the ruling a ‘tremendous victory.’

While ACLU-West Virginia spokesperson Billy Wolfe noted that Jackson is the only child currently impacted by the law, he encouraged other students to contact the chapter’s legal team if they believe themselves to be victims of discrimination.

Title IX was passed more than five decades ago as a direct challenge to sex discrimination in education

West Virginia is among the 24 states banning transgender women and girls from competing in sports consistent with their gender identity

Following the decision, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ and vowed to continue fighting to safeguard Title IX.

The law was passed more than five decades ago and was meant to address sex discrimination in education by ensuring that women had equal opportunities to participate in federally-funded programs.

‘We must keep working to protect women’s sports so that women’s safety is secured and girls have a truly fair playing field,’ Morrisey said on Tuesday. ‘We know the law is correct and will use every available tool to defend it.’

In the ruling, the appeals court reaffirmed that government officials had the authority to establish separate sports teams for boys and girls and enforce the line between them.

‘We also do not hold that Title IX requires schools to allow every transgender girl to play on girls teams, regardless of whether they have gone through puberty and experienced elevated levels of circulating testosterone,’ the court proclaimed.

‘We hold only that the district court erred in granting these defendants’ motions for summary judgment in this particular case and in failing to grant summary judgment to B.P.J. on her specific Title IX claim.’

In a dissenting opinion, Judge G. Steven Agee wrote that the state can separate teams by gender assigned at birth ‘without running afoul of either the Equal Protection Clause or Title IX.’

BỐNG BỐNG BANG BANG Sung By Vietnam Idols Kids 2016West Virginia is among the 24 states barring transgender women and girls from competing in sports consistent with their gender identity.

The Biden administration originally planned to release a new federal Title IX rule addressing both campus sexual assault and transgender athletes, but chose to split them into separate rules.

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