VICTORY: U.S District Court Grants Injunction Against Enforcement of Idaho’s Discriminatory, Anti-Transgender HB 500

by Nick Morrow

While only an initial victory, the law will be suspended while litigation is pending, which will prevent irreparable harm to the plaintiffs as well as other female transgender athletes.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign celebrated the news that U.S. District Judge David Nye has granted a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Idaho’s discriminatory anti-transgender law, HB 500, finding that the state’s interest was not justifiable but rather “an invalid interest of excluding transgender women and girls from women’s sports entirely.” While only an initial victory, the law will be suspended while litigation is pending, which will prevent irreparable harm to the plaintiffs as well as other female transgender athletes. HB 500 bars transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. As the order recognizes, both HB 500 and another discriminatory anti-transgender law, HB 509, were “motivated by a desire for transgender exclusion” and not related to any actual, legitimate policy goal.

“Today’s decision is a huge, positive step forward for transgender athletes in Idaho and around the country,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Everyone should be able to play sports, and gender identity should not be a barrier to participation. We’re hopeful that the court will ultimately make the right decision to strike down HB 500 in totality, so that athletes such as Lindsay Hecox and others can continue to excel at the sports they’ve poured themselves into, without having their identities used as a wedge against them.”

The decision comes as fall sports in Idaho begin preseason practices and athletes across the state prepare for the upcoming athletic season – including the case’s plaintiff Lindsay Hecox, a cross-country runner on Boise State University’s women's track team. Before today's decision, Lindsay and other transgender athletes would be prohibited from participating in the upcoming athletic season if the bill was allowed to go into effect. Notably, the NCAA already has a policy for the inclusion of transgender athletes which HB 500 would put Idaho in direct conflict with.

H.B. 500 forbids transgender girls and women from being able to play on sports teams with other girls and women, and it will subject all female athletes to the risk of invasive, expensive, and inappropriate testing. The bill was also opposed by business groups and medical professionals. Earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans re-released a letter signed by 40+ national businesses opposing anti-transgender legislation such as the law that was blocked in Idaho today.

HRC is grateful to the leadership of groups and activists on the ground that have been fighting against the spate of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Idaho, especially the coalition Moving Towards Freedom. The coalition is made up of the ACLU of Idaho, Add The Words, Beloved Bodies, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Legal Voice, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, and the Pride Foundation.

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