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Sean D. Reyes
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Transgender Participation in Sports Ban Stays in Effect

August 12, 2022

After two days of in-person court hearings, Third District Judge Keith Kelly indicated he will decide, no later than Tuesday, August 16, whether to enjoin Part 9 of H.B. 11. Until then, the law preventing transgender girls from competing on female sport teams remains in effect.

Back in 2021, Representative Kera Birkeland presented a bill to ban transgender females from participating in female sports that failed to become law. In 2022, a similar bill was brought by Representative Birkeland—H.B. 11—which passed in the final hours of the session. House Bill 11 contains two critical sections. Part 9 of the bill bans transgender girls from competing in female sports; Part 10 of the bill creates a commission that would come into effect if a court were to strike down or enjoin the ban.

H.B. 11 was passed by the legislature in March. In May, the ACLU of Utah and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the Utah High School Activities Association on behalf of three transgender girls who claim to have suffered harm since the ban came into effect. The Defendants asked the courts to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs’ claims and that the Plaintiffs’ claims were legally deficient.

After hearing arguments on the Defendants’ motions to dismiss, Judge Kelly declined to dismiss the State’s case.

At the close of yesterday’s hearings, Judge Kelly did not decide whether to grant or deny the preliminary injunction that would prevent the law from being enforced until a final judgment after trial, saying he needed more time to look over the evidence and cited case law. Judge Kelly also said that given the backlog of trials since COVID-19, a trial date will likely be delayed until next year.

Judge Kelly set a hearing for next Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., where he will verbally issue his ruling on the Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction (unless he has previously issued a written decision) and hold a Case Management Conference to define the scope of discovery and set a trial date.