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Federal appeals court rules West Virginia transgender ban discriminates against teenage athlete

In a 2-1 ruling, the court ruled that the law violated Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools.

Published: April 16, 2024 12:31pm

Updated: April 16, 2024 7:03pm

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that a West Virginia law that banned boys who identify as girls from playing on girls' sports teams discriminated against a teenage athlete.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law violated Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools, according to The Associated Press.

According to the court, the law discriminated against 13-year-old Becky Pepper Jackson, who has been taking puberty-blocking medication and publicly identified as a girl since elementary school.

If the law was enforced, Pepper Jackson would have been kicked off the middle school track team due to identifying as transgender. 

“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,” Judge Toby Heytens, nominated by President Biden, wrote in the ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pepper Jackson after GOP Gov. Jim Justice signed the transgender ban into law in 2021. 

“This is a tremendous victory for our client, transgender West Virginians, and the freedom of all youth to play as who they are,” ACLU West Virginia attorney Joshua Block said in response to the ruling. 

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he was disappointed in the decision. 

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