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Idaho Transgender Athlete Law To Be Challenged In Federal Court

Lindsay Hecox
Lindsay Hecox
Lindsay Hecox


Two Idaho athletes are suing state officials to block a law banning transgender girls and women from competing on sex-segregated sports teams from taking effect.



It’s been just over two weeks since Gov. Brad Little (R)signed into law the most restrictive regulations in the country over the participation of transgender athletes in sports.


Transgender girls and women are only allowed to compete on male or co-ed teams under the law, which is slated to take effect July 1.


Under the law, anyone could accuse a student of being transgender at any time and she would have to prove her gender through a physical exam or a genetic or chromosomal test at their own cost.


You can read a copy of the entire lawsuit here.


The law garnered widespread outrage from LGBTQ advocates, who called it discriminatory and unconstitutional.


Idaho’s attorney general agreed that it could be unconstitutional for several reasons, including that it could violate a person’s right to privacy when conducting medical exams or tests to prove their gender.


In a written opinion, the office also said it could violate the federal interstate commerce clause, since groups in other states, like the NCAA, would have to follow different rules in certain parts of the country.


The suit claims the new law violates the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause and the Fourth Amendment's protection from unlawful searches, both of which were also outlined as potential legal pitfalls by the Idaho attorney general.


Supporters say the law protects "biological" girls and women and their right to equal opportunities under the federal Title IX law.


The same day he approved this bill, Little also signed into law another piece of legislation that would roll back transgender rights. That law bans them from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates.


A similar state rule was already declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2018. The attorney general’s office also concluded the state would likely lose that case and it could cost taxpayers more than $1 million to defend.


The birth certificate law is also likely to garner a court challenge, which has been hinted at by another legal advocacy group.


The athletes’ suit is being brought on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a transgender Boise State University student who hopes to join the track and cross-country teams.


"I run for myself, but part of what I enjoy about the sport is building the relationships with a team. I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls’ team," Hecox said in a statement.


A 17-year-old, unnamed Boise High School student is also suing, saying she’s concerned she’ll be forced to verify her gender through a physical exam.


The ACLU, Legal Voice, and others are representing them.


"In Idaho and around the country, transgender people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender identity for years," said Gabriel Arkles, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU. "Inclusive teams support all athletes and encourage participation — this should be the standard for all school sports."


In addition to Gov. Little, the suit also names Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, the members of the Idaho State Board of Education, Boise State President Marlene Tromp, and Boise School District Superintendent Coby Dennis, among others, all in their official capacities.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!