The Supreme Court has ruled that transgender athletes in West Virginia can compete on female school sports teams in response to a challenge by the state to allow it to enforce a law that prohibits such athletes from doing so.
In a brief, unsigned order, the justices denied the state’s emergency request to lift an appeals court’s injunction, which enabled a transgender girl to compete on her middle school’s female teams until the three-judge panel reaches a final decision.
The appeals panel is now set to hear the student athlete’s appeal in full, and the case could ultimately return to the high court.
Justice Samuel Alito in a statement joined by Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting from the decision said the case “concerns an important issue that this Court is likely to be required to address in the near future.”
West Virginia in 2021 became the seventh state in the nation — and the sixth that year — to enact a law prohibiting transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams. The measure, officially titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” bars transgender female athletes from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity in public elementary schools, high schools and universities.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) could not cite a specific example of a transgender athlete with an unfair competitive advantage in his state when asked during an interview following his approval of the bill, but he said his experience as a girls’ basketball coach led him to believe the legislation is fair.
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