Department of Justice Defends Idaho’s Transgender Ban in Sports

The Epoch Times reported that the Justice Department (DOJ) stepped up to defend an Idaho law that prohibits biological males from participating in all-women sports, sustaining that the U.S. constitution allows the state to acknowledge that there are physiological differences between the biological sexes in sports,

Back in March, Idaho became the first state to pass a law—Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (Fairness Act)—that keeps biological males from competing in women’s sports that are affiliated with the state’s public school and higher education system. The law will go into effect in July and bans biological males from competing in women’s sports and has received criticism from LGBT and civil rights advocacy groups

The passage of this law motivated a biological male athlete, who received legal counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Voice, to sue the state governor, Brad Little, and other state officials. In the lawsuit, the argument was made that the law “impermissibly discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender status and invades fundamental privacy rights.” A biological female has joined in the lawsuit because she believes that competitors might attempt to “dispute” her gender in order to prevent her from playing soccer.

Another athlete’s argument is that the law violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause due to how it singles out individuals who break from traditional gender roles.

“We’re suing because HB 500 illegally targets women and girls who are transgender and intersex and subjects all female athletes to the possibility of invasive genital and genetic screenings,” Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, declared in a statement when the lawsuit was filed. “In Idaho and around the country, transgender people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender identity for years. Inclusive teams support all athletes and encourage participation—this should be the standard for all school sports.”

In a statement of interest released on June 19, the DOJ disagreed with the athlete’s argument on the equal protection clause. It argued that the state does not need to give up in its efforts to protect biological women with equal opportunity to compete in athletic endeavors without having to carve out arbitrary privileges for transgender athletes.

“The Equal Protection Clause allows Idaho to recognize the average physiological differences between the biological sexes in athletics,” the department sustained. “Because of these differences, the Fairness Act’s limiting of certain athletic teams to biological females provides equal protection because the limitation is based on the same exact interest that allows the creation of sex-segregated athletic teams in the first place—namely, the goal of ensuring that biological females have equal athletic opportunities.”

The department also mentioned that giving transgender women and girls a special exemption to compete in women’s sports would result in the state having to discriminate against normal biological males.

“Refusing to provide a special exemption for biological males if and only if they are transgender is hardly a denial of equal protection on the basis of sex, especially when such an exemption would harm biological females. Rather, Plaintiffs’ requested special exemption would actually require Idaho to engage in discrimination on the basis of gender identity, by compelling the State to discriminate against biological males whose gender identity reflects their biological sex,” the department stated.

“Allowing biological males to compete in all-female sports is fundamentally unfair to female athletes,” Attorney General William Barr declared in a statement.

Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney, told The Epoch Times that the U.S. government is turning to an argument that anti-trans advocates have used for years.

“Discrimination against women—including women who are trans—is discrimination. DOJ’s arguments will fail here just as DOJ lost its defense of anti-transgender discrimination this week in the Supreme Court,” Strangio stated.

States like Idaho are leading the way in passing conservative legislation.

Thanks to America’s federalist system, states have the ability pass legislation that is more in line with their constituents’ interests. This angers many on the Left, who want to impose their values on everyone — constitutional limitations be damned.