Lawyers and representatives for a West Virginia transgender girl asked the Supreme Court Monday to reject an emergency request from state lawmakers allowing student athletes to only play sports with and against people of their biological gender.
Becky Pepper-Jackson, a 12-year-old transgender girl who has reportedly been undergoing puberty delay treatments and estrogen hormone therapy, has been looking to compete and run with members of the girls’ cross country team at her high 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 type are generally reserved for matters of great importance and urgent, including pending death sentences and matters of national security. A 12-year-old girl playing with her peers is not 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 that she would ride with the women’s team.
«I’m not a guy. I don’t want to run with the boys when there’s a girls team and I shouldn’t have to run with the boys when there’s a girls team. Running with the girls means a lot to me because I’m a girl and should be treated like a girl, like all my girl friends,» the statement read, via The Washington Post.
Lawyers for the transgender girl sued the school board after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed the Save Women’s Sports Act into law in 2021. The law mandated student athletes to compete and play against people of their biological gender. They claimed that the Save Women’s Sports Act violates the 14th Amendment and the protections under Title IX.
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US District Judge Joseph Goodwin ruled against the transgender girl in January, also ruling that the laws did not violate Title IX protections. However, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 2-1 to reinstate a preliminary injunction.
West Virginia officials told the high court the law is necessary to keep the playing field level.
«The law makes the reasonable judgment that many have made before: Biological differences between men and women matter in sports,» Morrisey wrote in his petition. «Both Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment allow for 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 high school.
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The West Virginia High School Activities Commission, the state’s governing body for high school athletics, said it had not received any complaints about transgender athletes on girls’ teams when the lawsuit was filed.