SCOTUS Urged to Protect 12-Year-Old Trans Girl the Right to Play with Peers

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of West Virginia urged the United States Supreme Court to reject an effort by West Virginia’s Attorney General to block a 12-year-old transgender girl from continuing to participate in school sports with her peers.

In a March 9 filing, Attorney General Patrick Morrissey asked the Supreme Court for an emergency motion allowing the state to enforce a ban on transgender student-athletes and kick 12-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson off her middle school’s track and field team.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit blocked the state’s effort to kick Becky off the team as the legal advocates appealed a lower court ruling upholding the 2021 ban in a lawsuit brought on Becky’s behalf. 

“Becky is a 12-year-old girl who has tried out and been accepted as a member of the girls track team, with no issue from her teammates. She has been receiving puberty-delaying medication and gender-affirming hormones. It is unconscionable that the West Virginia Attorney General wants to prevent Becky from participating in sports with her peers,” Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU-WV said in a joint statement.

The statement continued, “Nearly 200 collegiate and professional women athletes – including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Candace Parker – joined in amicus briefs supporting trans youth participation in sports.”

They added, “West Virginia refuses to address the facts of Becky’s case and instead talks about elite athletic competitions that have nothing to do with the facts here. The AG and his allies have cherry-picked unique incidents and ignored the overwhelming evidence that allowing transgender youth to participate in team sports has benefits for all. We will vigorously defend Becky’s right to participate in team sports, and would urge state legislators countrywide to just let the kids play.”

West Virginia is one of 19 states that have banned transgender student-athletes in just the last three years as part of an escalating wave of state-level restrictions on the rights of transgender people. Similar federal lawsuits are pending in Idaho and Tennessee.