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Transgender girls and women in West Virginia are prohibited from participating in sports that align with their gender identity after Gov. Jim Justice signed a transgender athlete ban into law Wednesday.

The governor signed the bill on the last day for him to sign any bills that the West Virginia Legislature passed during its 2021 regular session. Bills that the governor hadn’t signed or vetoed by Wednesday became law without his signature.

Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider called the law “clearly unconstitutional” and one that will cost the state “untold legal fees” to defend.

“Let me be clear: federal law protects our transgender children from discrimination, and this anti-transgender athlete ban will not stand,” Schneider said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Transgender children are worthy of love and support. They deserve the chance to learn and grow in the classroom and on the field.”

On Monday, Justice said he would “proudly” sign the bill that prevents transgender girls and women from participating in girls and women’s sports from kindergarten all the way through college.

The law does not likewise prohibit transgender boys and men from participating in boys’ and men’s sports, nor will it require biological males to prove their sex if someone believes a transgender boy or man is participating in sports.

Under the law, if a person believes an athlete on a girls’ or women’s athletic team is not a biological female, the student-athlete who is believed to be transgender will have to provide some sort of proof that she is a biological female.

The law states the West Virginia Legislature’s belief that biological males have an advantage over biological females and that having a biological male on a girls’ or women’s team gives that team an unfair advantage.

The law does not mention any effect of, or standards for, transgender girls and women who are receiving hormonal treatment.

The West Virginia Board of Education will have to establish the methods and standards by which girls and women participating in sports will have to adhere in order to prove their biological sex, per the law.

NCAA officials announced on April 12 intentions to pull championship events from states with transgender athlete bans.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that despite outcry from LGBTQ+ equality supporters, there has been little repercussions against states that have enacted such bans.

In August 2020, a federal judge in an Idaho district court granted an injunction preventing a transgender athlete ban from taking effect in that state until it can be determined in court whether the law is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Idaho was the first state in the country to pass a transgender athlete ban. An appeal of the injunction is pending in U.S. Circuit Court.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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