On Thursday, the Supreme Court made a ruling allowing a 12-year-old transgender girl from West Virginia to participate in her middle school's girls' sports teams, despite an ongoing legal battle over a ban.
Initially, attorneys and advocates for Becky Pepper-Jackson had requested that the Supreme Court dismiss an urgent appeal from West Virginia lawmakers seeking to restrict student-athletes to only participate in sports with and against individuals of their biological gender.
The Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case, allowing the ruling of the appeals court to stand, which permitted the girl to remain a member of her middle school's track and cross-country teams. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the majority decision.
"I would grant the State’s application. Among other things, enforcement of the law at issue should not be forbidden by the federal courts without any explanation," Alito wrote in dissent.
"This is a procedural setback, but we remain confident that when this case is ultimately determined on the merits, we will prevail," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a released statement. "We maintain our stance that this is a common sense law – we have a very strong case. It’s just basic fairness and common sense to not have biological males play in women’s sports."
The U.S. Supreme Court voted to allow a 12-year-old transgender girl in West Virginia to continue competing on her middle school’s girls sports teams while a lawsuit over a state ban continues. https://t.co/dAF8IVIwOl
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 6, 2023
A collective statement was issued by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Lambda Legal in celebration of the verdict.
"We are grateful that the Supreme Court today acknowledged that there was no emergency and that Becky should be allowed to continue to participate with her teammates on her middle school track team, which she has been doing without incident for three going on four seasons, as our challenge to West Virginia’s onerous trans youth sports ban makes its way through the courts," the statement read. "This was a baseless and cruel effort to keep Becky from where she belongs – playing alongside her peers as a teammate and as a friend."
In a statement given last spring, Becky asserted that she did not identify as a boy and insisted on participating in 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, per The Washington Post.
After West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the Save Women's Sports Act into law in 2021, attorneys representing the transgender girl filed a lawsuit against her school board. The law mandated that student-athletes compete and participate only with individuals of their biological gender. The lawyers contended that the Save Women's Sports Act was in violation of the 14th Amendment and Title IX protections.
Becky is the sole transgender girl recognized by both supporters and opponents who desires to participate in a girls' team in West Virginia. She has been engaging in competition with girls since she began attending middle school.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, which oversees high school athletics in the state, stated when the lawsuit was filed that they had not received any grievances regarding transgender athletes participating in girls' teams.
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