Utah Judge Pauses Ban on Trans Athletes Competing against Girls in Sports

A Utah judge issued a preliminary injunction reversing a state ban on biological males who identify as females competing on girls’ sports teams on Friday, allowing them to compete if a commission grants them eligibility.

The decision made by Judge Keith A. Kelly reverses House Bill 11, which banned the transgender athletes from competing on female sports teams. The original ban went into effect in July after Utah GOP lawmakers overrode the veto of Republican governor Spencer Cox.

The parents of three boys who identify as girls wishing to compete in female sports filed a lawsuit against the ban, asking the court to declare it unconstitutional.

Although the ban has been paused, H.B. 11 outlined the establishment of a commission to determine the eligibility of trans-identifying boys to compete on a case-by-case basis — a fallback if the ban was reversed by a court.

The School Activity Eligibility Commission, which has not been set up yet, will have a mental-health professional, “a statistician with expertise in the analysis of medical data,” a physician focusing on “gender identity healthcare,” a sports physiologist, a representative of an athletic association, a collegiate-level athletic trainer, and a rotating member who is a coach or official of the sport in question.

“The effect of this preliminary injunction will not mean that transgender girls will automatically be eligible to compete on their school’s girls’ teams. Rather, it will allow them to compete only upon the commission’s determination that their being able to compete is fair under all of the circumstances,” Kelly wrote in his ruling.

Republican Utah representative Kera Birkeland, the sponsor of H.B. 11, said girls can still compete “fairly” despite the judge’s decision

“From the beginning, my intention has been to protect and preserve girls’ sports,” Birkeland told KSL.

“Although the judge did not rule in our favor, female athletes can still be assured they can compete fairly, as we will soon have a commission in place. For every girl who is feeling unseen or unheard right now — I hear you. Be proud of the body you were given and its abilities. You are fierce and amazing just as you are.”