CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A federal judge has ruled West Virginia’s law banning transgender athletes from competing in female sports in middle and high schools and colleges is constitutional.
According to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the ruling came down Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023 from a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Judge Joseph Goodwin.
The “Save Women’s Sports Bill,” or HB 3293, was passed and signed into law during the 2021 legislative session. The law defined “girl” and “woman” as a person who is “biologically female,” therefore making male-to-female transgender girls ineligible to participate on girls’ school sports teams, according to the ruling.
After a male-to-female transgender middle school student was told she would not be allowed to try out for the girls’ track and cross-country teams due to the new law. According to the judge’s ruling today, the school had told the family she would be allowed if the law had not passed. At the time the law passed, there were no known transgender students playing school sports in West Virginia.
“This is not only about simple biology, but fairness for women’s sports, plain and simple,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Opportunities for girls and women on the field are precious and we must safeguard that future. Protecting these opportunities is important, because when biological males compete in a women’s event women and girls lose their opportunity to shine.”
A lawsuit was then filed on the child’s behalf questioning if the definitions of “girl” and “woman” set forth by the West Virginia State Legislature were constitutionally permissible in this context.
In the ruling, Judge Goodwin stated that he has “no doubt that H.B. 3293 aimed to politicize participation in school athletics for transgender students.” However he says he did not find “sufficient record of legislative animus,” or hostility in the legislative bill.
Fairness West Virginia responded to the decision saying this law was never about protecting girls in sports and said the bill was “searching for a problem”
“From the very beginning, we told lawmakers this bill was a cruel solution in search of a problem,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “Legislative leaders spread the lie that girls’ sports would be dominated by transgender athletes, but they couldn’t even name one such athlete. This bill was never about protecting girls who play sports, because if it was, [she] would still be allowed to play.”