UTAH

Transgender girls can compete in Utah with commission approval after judge pauses ban

Aug 19, 2022, 9:19 AM | Updated: Aug 22, 2022, 10:01 am
A transgender flag is pictured in front of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, ...
A transgender flag is pictured in front of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, during a protest over HB11, which would create commission to decide if transgender kids can play sports in schools. (Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)
(Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Third District Judge Keith Kelly has signed an order granting a preliminary injunction of  HB 11, the Utah transgender athlete ban. 

Today’s ruling means that trans girls can compete again if they are granted permission by a yet-to-be-organized commission, created by Utah lawmakers.

HB11 is on hold until a lawsuit filed against the Utah High School Activities Association is resolved.

 

Trans girls will be allowed to compete only after their participation is deemed “fair” by a commission that was created by the Utah lawmakers who envisioned a challenge to HB11.
KSL NewsRadio Legal Analyst Greg Skordas describes Friday’s order, below:

Earlier this week, Judge Kelly canceled a hearing expected to address the lawsuit in favor of offering a written opinion. Judge Kelly said that a written opinion would be the best way to resolve the preliminary injunction motion.

Three transgender girls, aged 16, 14, and 13 are at the center of the lawsuit filed in response to the passage of HB 11. Each attends school in Utah and wishes to compete in school sports.

Responses to the preliminary injunction of the Utah transgender athlete ban

 Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-District 53, the sponsor of HB11, responded to KSL after the order was made public.

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

“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 it’s abilities. You are fierce and amazing just as you are.”

Utah Senate President, Sen. J. Stuart Adams, released a statement focusing on the commission that will now determine eligibility for trans athletes in Utah.

“Utah had the foresight to create a first-of-its-kind solution, a data-driven commission that will help ensure female athletes can continue to compete in a fair environment,” Adams said. “With the commission, we are aiming to protect equitable and safe competition while preserving the integrity of women’s sports. The commission will be constituted in the coming weeks.”

The Utah High School Activities Association

The lawsuit in question was filed against the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). Today, the legal liaison for the UHSAA told KSL NewsRadio that they anticipated a “disruption” to HB11, and therefore allowed trans athletes to register for school sports.

“So … we knew the ban would take effect July 1 unless it was stayed … but we also knew that if it was stayed the second step was the commission or our policy … as students were registering if any trans athletes were registering we wanted to get whatever information they had that would be needed for the commission,” said David Spatafore.

If a trans athlete who has not already registered wishes to participate in school sports, Spatafore said they’ll notify the commission.

“If we get any registrations from an athlete who is transitioning then we notify the commission, provide the commission with the details, and then the commission will hold their hearing.”

Now, a commission kicks in

Another HB11 sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, further described the commission.

“It’s imperative that we protect women’s sports and uphold Title IX. For decades, women have fought to have equal opportunities in athletics, and fair opportunities are worth protecting,” said Bramble.

“The commission makes it possible to preserve women’s sports while making evidence-based decisions on a case-by-case basis. Though some may disagree with this approach, it is the best path forward to protect female sports while considering the needs of all students.”

The School Activity Eligibility Commission will be made up of:

  • a medical data statistician,
  • a doctor with expertise in gender identity healthcare,
  • a sports physiologist,
  • a mental health professional
  • an athlete trainer who serves student0athletes on the collegiate level,
  • a representative of an athletic association,
  • and a rotating member who is a coach or official in the sport relevant to a particular case.

Our previous coverage:

 

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Transgender girls can compete in Utah with commission approval after judge pauses ban