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Idaho law banning transgender athletes heard in 9th Circuit

Lindsay Hecox

The competitive fate of a transgender athlete in Idaho is in the hands of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals once again.

Boise State student Lindsay Hecox filed suit against the state in 2020 shortly after Republican legislators passed the nation’s first law explicitly banning trans athletes from sex-segregated teams.

The law prevented her from joining the cross country team, which she says is unconstitutionally discriminatory.

A federal district court judge banned enforcement of Idaho’s law later that year, but the case has been delayed because of Hecox dropping out, then re-enrolling at the university.

“When Lindsay Hecox dropped out at BSU six days after failing to make the women’s cross country team in October 2020, it mooted this case,” said Cody Barnett, an attorney representing two other student-athletes who support the law.

Since then, she has filed declarations with the court outlining her work to save money, re-enroll at Boise State and become an Idaho resident.

“It doesn’t look like one of those someday maybe cases,” said Judge Andrew Kleinfeld, citing that Hecox has taken several steps toward making the team.

Barnett pushed back, saying that doesn’t matter since the case should’ve been dismissed two years ago. But neither he nor attorneys representing the state of Idaho asked the court to toss the lawsuit back then.

“What are we as a court supposed to do?” asked Judge Kim Wardlaw. “If you had come then and said this case is moot, then I think we might’ve had to dismiss it, but now the facts are different.”

Barnett and Idaho Deputy Attorney General Scott Zanzig also said it was unlikely Hecox would be academically eligible for the team because of NCAA rules requiring her to achieve a set number of credits by next fall.

That’s not true, according to Andrew Barr, Hecox’s attorney. Barr said she’s on track to have more than enough credits to qualify for the team at that time.

But he also said her academic eligibility doesn’t matter until she’s been accepted as a member of the team, which Idaho’s law prevents.

The three-member panel of judges will rule on the case at a later date.

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!

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