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Federal Judge Blocks Arizona Law Banning Men From Women’s Sports

A federal judge blocked an Arizona law that prevents men from competing on women’s sports teams.

U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona Judge Jennifer Zipps, an Obama appointee, issued a preliminary injunction against Arizona’s “Save Women’s Sports Act.” The families of two boys who identify as girls, backed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), filed the lawsuit in April, alleging Arizona’s law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX.

Zipps found the transgender athletes who sued “do not have a competitive advantage over other girls, and they do not pose a safety risk.” Male athletes competing in women’s divisions have taken titles from women on a number of occasions.

Transgender cyclist Austin Killips won first place in the women’s division of the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Tour of the Gila race in May. Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas broke multiple records while competing on the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swim team while ranking at 462 when competing on the men’s team.

Zipps also wrote that the plaintiffs would be subjected to “suffer severe and irreparable mental, physical, and emotional harm if the Act applies to them because they cannot play on boys’ sports teams.”

“Playing on a boys’ team would directly contradict Plaintiffs’ medical treatment for gender dysphoria and would be painful and humiliating,” Zipp wrote. “Plaintiffs’ mental health is dependent on living as girls in all aspects of their lives.”

Republican Arizona then-Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law last year. The law specifies that school sports designated for “females,” “women” or “girls” may “not be open to students of the male sex.”

Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of Public Instruction, said the decision would be appealed, according to The Associated Press.

“This will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court, and they will rule in our favor,” Horne said, according to the AP.

“We are very pleased with the Court’s decision that allows our clients to play on girls’ sports teams while this case proceeds,” National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney Rachel Berg said in a statement. “The Court recognized the law is overbroad and cannot survive constitutional scrutiny. We look forward to securing a permanent ruling.”

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