8 trans athletes file brief opposing IN trans girls sports ban

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Opponents of House Bill 1041 gathered at the Indiana Statehouse with signs voicing their support for transgender athletes in May 2022. (IL file photo)

Eight transgender women athletes hailing from seven different states have filed a 46-page amici curiae brief challenging an Indiana law that bans trans girls from participating in K-12 girls’ sports.

The brief, filed on behalf of the athletes by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, shares personal stories from each of the amici, who argue transgender girls’ “ability to access the same opportunities that sports provide to their cisgender (non-transgender) peers depends on their ability to participate in accordance with their gender identity.”

“Transgender amici who participated in sports with policies that respected their gender identity excelled socially and personally, were able to develop critical skills that carried over to their personal lives and development, and built strong relationships with their teammates and competitors, which in turn furthered understanding, acceptance, teamwork, and inclusivity,” the brief states. “In contrast, when amici were excluded from sports or discriminated against in their respective sports, they often suffered social, emotional, and physical harm.”

The amici, who range in age and experience levels across multiple sports, are from California, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Texas.

Among the athletes who filed the brief are Hailey Davidson, a professional golfer, and Kayla Ward, a model, actress and basketball player who at one time aimed to be the first openly trans player in the WNBA.

The law in question is House Enrolled Act 1041, which was passed by the Indiana General Assembly in May despite a veto by the governor.

The day the Indiana Republican supermajority Legislature overrode the veto by Gov. Eric Holcomb, also a Republican, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit challenging the new law in the Indiana Southern District Court on behalf of 10-year-old A.M., a trans girl who plays softball at an Indianapolis public school.

In July, Indiana Southern District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued a preliminary injunction allowing A.M. to participate on her school-sponsored team, finding the law “raises controversial issues regarding the boundaries of Title IX and whether and how those boundaries should stretch and shift in an ever-changing world.”

However, the injunction applied to A.M. only, so the law remained in effect in all other instances.

Following the judge’s order, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita — who has vocally supported the ban since it was first introduced, including sending a representative from his office to testify in support of the bill during a public hearing — requested that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hear the case en banc.

After that request was denied, Rokita asked that the 7th Circuit lift the preliminary injunction.

Over the last two months, dozens of briefs have been submitted in the case supporting both sides, according to the 7th Circuit docket for A.M. v. Indianapolis Public Schools, et al, 22-2332. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.

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