Idaho Gov Signs Bill Banning Transgenders from Female Sports
New law also bans people changing birth certificate to gender they 'identify' with
Idaho's Republican governor has signed a new bill into law that bans transgender athletes from competing in female sporting events.
Gov. Brad Little signed two bills into law on Monday, deemed "anti-transgender" by critics, making Idaho the first among states that introduced some 40 such bills this year to enact them.
The first bill prohibits transgender people from competing in sporting events of the gender they "identify" with, rather than their biological gender.
The second bill is aimed at banning transgenders from changing the sex on their birth certificate to match their chosen gender "identity."
The birth certificate measure ignores a 2018 federal court ruling that a past law barring transgender people from making the birth certificate changes violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The judge scrapped the ban and warned against new rules.
The Idaho attorney general's office, which didn't appeal the ruling, said it could cost $1 million if the state had to defend the ban again and lost, according to the Associated Press.
"There's an injunction that already absolutely forbids this policy, and the government can't enforce this law without violating a court order," said Peter Renn of Lambda Legal, the law firm that represented two transgender women whose lawsuit led to the court ruling.
"The ramifications of contempt (of court) are quite furious."
He said the court could impose fines and hold top officials at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare responsible should the court order be violated.
Backers of the legislation said the federal court was wrong, and the law is needed so Idaho has accurate birth records. It takes effect on July 1.
The sports ban applies to all sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges, and universities.
A girls' or women's team will not be open to transgender students who "identify" as female.
Backers said the law was needed because transgender female athletes have physical advantages.
Opponents claim it discriminates against transgender girls and women and would subject athletes to invasive tests to prove their gender, likely causing some potential athletes to avoid sports.
Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, who sponsored the sports ban, has consistently argued that allowing the practice would negate Title IX, the 1972 law that bars sex discrimination in education and is credited with opening up athletic competition for girls and women.
Both the anti-transgender bills had overwhelming support among Republicans in the state House and state Senate in numbers great enough to override a veto.
Rather than wait out a potential veto, though, both chambers adjourned earlier this month because of coronavirus concerns and would have been powerless to override vetoes.
"We condemn Governor Little's actions and the actions of dozens of Idaho legislators who are so focused on pleasing their bigoted base instead of doing what is right," said Mistie Tolman, Idaho director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, adding the laws make Idaho one of the "cruelest states in the country."
Across the U.S., more than 40 bills were introduced this year targeting the transgender agenda.
About half, like one of the Idaho bills, sought to ban transgender girls from competing at various levels of female sports.
Another large batch of bills sought to ban certain types of gender-transition medical treatment for minors.
None of these bills have been enacted, and most have died.
In some other states — including Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Missouri, and Arizona — bills of one or both categories remain technically alive, but most are considered unlikely to win final passage.
In some cases, the legislatures are in recess, and future scheduling is in limbo because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, the families of three female high school runners have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls' sports.
On March 24, the U.S. Justice Department came out in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the state's inclusive policy violates the federal Title IX law providing girls equal educational and athletic opportunities.