Reps for transgender athlete, 12, urge SCOTUS to dismiss state’s emergency filing: ‘Petty and baseless’
Lawyers and representatives for a West Virginia transgender girl asked the Supreme Court on Monday to reject an emergency application from state lawmakers that allow for student-athletes to only play sports with and against those of their biological gender.
Becky Pepper-Jackson, a 12-year-old transgender girl who has reportedly been under puberty-delaying treatments and estrogen hormone therapy, has been looking to compete and run with members of the girls cross-country team at her middle school.
“This emergency filing by Attorney General (Patrick) Morrisey is a petty and baseless move,” the ACLU, ACLU of West Virginia and Lambda Legal wrote in a statement, via Courthouse News Service. “Requests of this kind are typically reserved for high-stakes, time-sensitive matters — including pending death sentences and matters of national security. A 12-year-old girl playing with her peers is hardly an emergency, and we urge the court to deny the state’s request.”
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Becky said in a statement last spring that she was not a boy and insisted she ran with the girls team.
“I am not a boy. I do not want to run with the boys when there is a girls’ team and I should not have to run with the boys when there is a girls’ team. Running with the girls means a lot to me because I am a girl, and I should be treated like a girl, just like all my friends who are girls,” the statement read, via The Washington Post.
Lawyers for the transgender girl sued her school board after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed the Save Women’s Sports Act into law in 2021. The law ordered student-athletes to compete and play against those of their biological gender. They claimed the Save Women’s Sports Act violates the 14th Amendment and protections under Title IX.
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U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin ruled against the transgender girl in January and also ruled the laws did not violate Title IX protections. However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reinstate a preliminary injunction.
West Virginia officials have told the high court the law is needed to keep the playing field level.
“The Act makes the reasonable judgment that many have made before: Biological differences between males and females matter in sports,” Morrisey wrote in his petition. “Both Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment allow that judgment.”
Becky is the only transgender girl identified by advocates and the opposition as wanting to play on a girls’ team in West Virginia. She has been competing with and against girls since she entered middle school.
West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, the governing body for high school athletics in the state, said when the suit was filed that it had not received any complaints about transgender athletes on girls’ teams.