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Transgender athletes in Utah can return to competing in high school sports after judge temporarily blocks the states anti-trans ban

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 26: The transgender flag is seen during the New York City Pride Parade on June 26, 2022 in New York City. The annual NYC Pride Parade returned fully in person this year after being scaled back in 2021 and cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
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  • A Utah Judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking the state's ban on transgender athletes competing. 
  • This ruling came after three transgender girl students challenged the state's ban.
  • The judge ruled that the ban was discriminatory and the students did not appear to have an advantage.

Transgender girls in Utah high schools can return to competing on the girls' team this fall after a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state's athletic ban, which passed early this year.

Judge Keith Kelly in Salt Lake City granted a preliminary injunction, stating that the state's athletic ban "discriminates against transgender girls."  

"The ban singles out transgender girls and categorically bars them from competing on girls' sports teams," Kelly wrote in his ruling. "At the same time, other girls are free to compete. This is plainly unfavorable treatment."

This ruling came after three families of transgender student-athletes filed a lawsuit challenging Utah's controversial HB11 bill, which banned transgender high school athletes from competing on sports teams that they identify with. 

According to the ruling, the three students have shown "irreparable harm" from the ban.

The Judge added that all three students had started hormone therapy, which stopped their progression through puberty, and stated that they didn't have any competitive advantages.

"Before puberty, boys have no significant athletic advantage over girls," Kelly wrote. "Many transgender girls — including two of the plaintiffs in this case — medically transition at the onset of puberty, thereby never gaining any potential advantages that the increased production of testosterone during male puberty may create."

Utah's controversial HB11 bill passed on March 28 of this year, prohibiting transgender high school students from competing on teams whose gender they identify with. 

HB11 was to take effect on July 1 after Republican lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Spencer Cox on March 22.

In a letter, Cox listed his reasoning for vetoing the bill stating it was targeting a few students out of approximately 75,000 students in Utah. 

"Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That's what all of this is about. Four kids who aren't dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships," Cox wrote in a letter explaining his reasoning. "Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few."

The attorney representing the three high school students praised the judge's decision, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"The girls and their families are very relieved," Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Tribune. "Having this law in effect was causing them enormous pain and stress. … Now they have a chance to go back to being kids and doing the things that other kids do."

According to The Tribune, the backup process for vetting transgender athletes will move forward in which a commission will decide on transgender athletes competing. 

The commission will determine if a transgender athlete will have an unfair advantage in competing by evaluating the athlete's wingspan, height, weight, and whether a player is taking hormone blockers, according to The Tribune. 

According to The Tribune, members for the commission have not been selected yet, but a spokesperson for Utah Legislature said on Friday that they will be announced "in the coming days."


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