B.P.J. v. West Virginia
Becky is a 12-year-old girl who wants to run for her middle school’s cross-country and track teams. But a new West Virginia law would ban her from doing so because she is transgender. Becky challenged the law in court, and Public Justice has joined an amicus brief to support her appeal.
West Virginia’s ban is part of a recent wave of legislation that seeks to curb the rights of transgender people across the country, and one of 19 state laws that bar transgender students from participating in school sports. The law prohibits students from joining sports teams labeled for the other “biological sex,” defined as “an individual’s physical form as a male or female based solely on the individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” As the district court recognized, the bill was a “solution in search of a problem.” The governor signed it even though he could not name a single transgender athlete in the entire state of West Virginia. This law, and others like it, are opposed by many women athletes, women’s sports organizations, and medical experts.
Initially, the court ordered the school to let Becky try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams. She ran for the next three years with the full support of her coaches and teammates and no complaints from other teams. “Despite regularly finishing near the back of the pack, she loves to play, have fun with her friends and try her best,” as the ACLU recently wrote on Becky’s behalf.
But in January 2023, the district court changed course—it granted the State’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that West Virginia’s ban was legal.
Becky appealed. One month later, the Fourth Circuit ordered West Virginia to allow Becky to continue to play on her cross-county and track teams until the court rules on her appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court then ruled to keep that order in place as the case goes forward.
Becky is now waiting for the Fourth Circuit to make a final ruling on her appeal. Public Justice joined an amicus brief filed by the National Women’s Law Center and fifty other organizations. The brief argues that West Virginia’s ban violates Becky’s right to be free of sex discrimination in school, under both the U.S. Constitution and Title IX. We await court’s ruling.