The Justice Department lined up Thursday against states with newly passed laws banning transgender participation in women’s sports and gender-reassignment treatment for minors, arguing that the measures violate federal law.
The DOJ filings slammed the West Virginia law barring transgender athletes from participating in scholastic sports, and the Arkansas law prohibiting gender-reassignment procedures for those under 18, in support of lawsuits against those states filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The United States has a significant interest in ensuring that all students, including students who are transgender, can participate in an educational environment free of unlawful discrimination and that the proper legal standards are applied to claims under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause,” said the DOJ statement of interest in the West Virginia case.
“A state law that limits or denies a particular class of people’s ability to participate in public, federally funded educational programs and activities solely because their gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth violates both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause,” the filing said, adding that the state law “does exactly this.”
The filings represent a one-two punch by the Biden administration on behalf of the LGBTQ movement, coming a day after the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced that it would extend Title IX anti-discrimination protections to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity.
The moves also set up a battle with the nine red states that have approved in the last year measures to bar biological males from participating in girls’ scholastic sports.
The Human Rights Campaign cheered the DOJ filings, tweeting, “Trans people belong. These laws don’t.”
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who signed a Fairness in Women’s Sports Act in April, was sued last month on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender student who had sought to compete in girls’ track and field in middle school.
“The State cannot point to any valid evidence that allowing transgender girls to participate on girls’ sports teams endangers girls’ athletic opportunities,” said the DOJ filing. “Instead, the state legislated based on misconceptions and overbroad assumptions about transgender girls.”
In Connecticut, four female high school athletes have sued over the state’s decision to allow biological males to participate in girls’ sports, which was dismissed in April by a federal judge.
Those girls, represented by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, have appealed.
Idaho was hit with a lawsuit last year for its first-in-the-nation law prohibiting male-to-female transgender athletes from competing against girls, prompting a court to issue a stay pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
In Arkansas, the ACLU sued last month on behalf of four transgender minors over a measure prohibiting doctors from providing hormones, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18, as well as banning them from making referrals.
The Arkansas bill passed in April over a veto by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, but the DOJ statement of interest argued that the measure violated federal law.
“Prohibiting medically necessary care in the manner proscribed [Arkansas] Act 626 amounts to intentional discrimination against transgender minors on the basis of sex,” the DOJ said in its statement of interest.
Both conservative and feminist groups slammed the Education Department’s Wednesday notice, accusing the department of seeking to “erase women” by requiring schools to treat students based on their gender identity not their sex.
Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, said the administration was “waging a War on Women in the name of wokeism.”
“The Biden Administration has taken yet another step towards erasing women from civil rights law,” Mr. Schilling said. “By reading gender identity into Title IX, the administration has ensured that women will now lose their protections in sports, in private spaces, in scholarships, and elsewhere.”
Women’s Human Rights Campaign founder Kara Dansky tweeted that the Education Department has “officially eviscerated Title IX protections for women and girls.”
“Title IX was sure fun while it lasted,” she said. “@POTUS, @VP, women and girls will not forget your cruelty.”
• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.