A Utah judge has postponed the implementation of a statewide ban on transgender children participating in sports, which was enacted earlier this year. This comes as a huge relief as most students return to school this month. According to the Guardian, Judge Keith Kelly decided on Friday to halt the law until a legal challenge was resolved, after recently rejecting a request by Utah state prosecutors to dismiss the lawsuit.
Families of three transgender student-athletes in Utah filed a lawsuit in May challenging the ban, claiming it violates the Utah Constitution’s equal rights and due process protections. Similar lawsuits are being filed in other states, including Idaho, West Virginia, and Indiana.
According to the Associated Press, transgender girls will now face a state commission of political appointees that will decide whether they are allowed to participate on a case-by-case basis rather than an outright ban. The panel was established earlier this year by Utah’s Republican lawmakers in a bill passed earlier this year as a backup strategy in the event that the law was declared unconstitutional.
The panel will be able to determine whether a trans girl would have an unfair advantage under the law by obtaining and evaluating the child’s height and weight. The commission, which will meet soon, will be made up of a medical data statistician, a doctor with experience in gender identity healthcare, a sports physiologist, a mental health specialist, a collegiate athletic trainer, an athletic association representative, and a rotating member who is a coach or official in the sport at the center of the dispute in each case.
Transgender females’ eligibility to compete in female sports has recently become a contentious issue in the United States. Republican lawmakers have even passed legislation prohibiting trans girls from participating in sports, citing an unfair competitive advantage. While supporters of the ban point to an unfair advantage, supporters of transgender rights argue that the restrictions aren’t just for sports, but will also be used to bully and degrade transgender children.