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Tipsheet

Utah Judge Blocks Transgender Athlete Ban

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Biological male athletes who identify as girls will be allowed to play on sports teams with biological females beginning this school year, a judge ruled on Friday.

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The law banning transgender athletes from girls’ sports teams was put forth by the Utah legislature earlier this year. It was vetoed by GOP Gov. Spencer Cox. The Utah legislature subsequently overrode the Governor’s veto. 

Townhall covered in June how two anonymous families challenged the law. The families argued that “categorical bans on transgender athletes violate provisions of the state constitution that ensure men and women enjoy equal rights and due process.”

Judge Keith Kelly of the Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake City ruled that the attorneys representing the families of the transgender athletes showed that the law was “singling them out for unfavorable treatment as transgender girls.” He added that the injunction on the law, H.B.11, allows transgender girls to compete in girls’ sports “only when it is fair.”

The Associated Press noted that transgender girls who want to compete on girls’ teams will be sent before a commission that will determine on a “case-by-case basis” if the biological male athlete’s involvement in the sport compromises fairness.

“Utah’s Republican lawmakers created the commission in a law passed earlier this year as a fallback plan to be implemented in case of an injunction against the law,” AP added. It will include a panel of experts in athletics and medicine.

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This month, a Utah athlete who won a state championship was investigated for being transgender. Local outlet KFOR noted that after a state competition, parents complained about the athlete who came in first place. Their complaints were directed to the Utah High School Activities Association. The school was then asked to conduct an investigation on the athlete. She was not transgender.

Legislation surrounding women’s sports have popped up in several states after collegiate swimmer, Will “Lia” Thomas, made headlines this past swim season for competing on the women’s swim team at University of Pennsylvania. Thomas competed on the men’s team for three previous seasons. Townhall reported how Thomas took home a Division I title at the NCAA championships in March competing against women.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated in March, Thomas doubled-down on competing against women and claimed that the wins and records don’t matter. 

“I’m a woman, just like anybody else on the team,” Thomas said in the interview with SI. SI added in their feature of Thomas that “she’s not thinking about wins or records, she [Thomas] insists.”

SI’s claims were contrary to what Thomas’ teammates stated in anonymous interviews in the months leading up to the piece being published. Earlier in the year, a female UPenn swimmer told The Washington Examiner that Thomas “compares herself to Jackie Robinson” and “mocks” competing on the women’s team, as Townhall covered. Thomas made headlines late last year after winning a 1,650-yard freestyle race where the runner-up finished 38 seconds behind.

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“All she does is make comments to people like, ‘At least I’m still No. 1 in the country,’ and those kinds of cocky things,” the swimmer told the Examiner. “She doesn’t care how all this is affecting us and how this is affecting our relationship to swimming. She doesn't care, and it makes it really hard to like her.”

In another interview with the Examiner, an anonymous female UPenn swimmer said that Thomas “was not even close to being competitive as a man in the 50 and the 100 (freestyle events),” and that “just because Lia is biologically a man, [Lia] is just naturally better than many females in the 50 and the 100 or anything that [Lia] wasn’t good at as a man.” 

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