Flickr: Ted Eytan
Flickr: Ted Eytan

In a major win for trans rights, a Utah judge has reversed the state’s harmful trans sports ban.

Back in March, lawmakers introduced the transphobic House Bill 11 during a legislative session.

Under the bill, transgender girls would be banned from competing in school sports that align with their gender identity.

Officials debated the legislation for an hour before the Senate ultimately passed it with a 16-13 vote. It then headed to House lawmakers, who immediately passed the proposal with a vote of 46-29.

Even though House Bill 11 was vetoed by the state’s governor Spencer Cox, conservative lawmakers overturned it with a 56-18 vote and a 21-8 vote in the state’s House and Senate, respectively.

However, shortly after the ban went into effect on 1 July, the families of three trans teens – who have been listed as Jenny Roe, Jane Noe and Jill Poe – sued the state for discrimination, as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.

On 19 August, Judge Keith Kelly of Utah’s Third District Court issued a preliminary injunction against the trans sports ban after ruling that the plaintiffs suffered “irreparable harm.”

“The ban singles out transgender girls and categorically bars them from competing on girls’ sports teams. At the same time, other girls are free to compete. This is plainly unfavourable treatment,” Kelly wrote.

“Plaintiffs identify and live as girls, interact with others as girls, and are taking medication to prevent them from going through male puberty. But the ban does not treat them as girls.”

While Judge Kelly’s decision has effectively blocked the harmful ban, other parts of the transphobic House Bill 11 remain intact – including a rule that requires trans girls to meet with a committee that decides their eligibility to participate in school sports.

“Thus, the effect of this preliminary injunction will not mean that transgender girls will automatically be eligible to compete on their school’s girls’ teams,” he continued.

“Rather, it will allow them to compete only upon the commission’s determination that their being able to compete is fair under all of the circumstances.

“The Court is not persuaded that giving Plaintiffs and other transgender girls a chance to participate in school sports on an equal footing with other girls poses any threat to the public interest.”

Shortly after the ruling was revealed, LGBTQ+ activists and organisations praised Judge Kelly for his inclusive decision.

“The pressure, the strain this was putting them under, was so enormous. It is just a huge relief to have that weight lifted,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (per CBS News).

Jenny Noe’s parents echoed similar sentiments before stating that all children in Utah will now know “they are valued and supported.”

“This is a win not only for my child but for all girls in this state,” they added. “I am grateful that the court has put this dangerous law on pause…”