A federal judge in Indiana has dealt a blow to the state’s anti-trans sports ban, ordering that a 10-year-old transgender girl be allowed back onto her softball team. While the case signals a victory for trans rights, the sports ban currently remains in place.
The plaintiff is AM, a girl who has been openly transgender since she was four years old, according to PinkNews. She joined the softball team in 2021, shortly after a court changed her gender marker. Her mother commented on how her transition and inclusion in the softball team has improved AM’s mental health, saying that she has “come out of her shell” and has felt “more at ease in her skin.”
Earlier this month, Indiana became the 17th state in the US to enact an anti-trans sports ban. The bill was originally vetoed by the state’s governor in March, but this was subsequently overruled by the legislature. The ACLU of Indiana promptly filed a lawsuit on behalf of AM.
This new ruling provides a temporary injunction for AM to rejoin her sports team. However, it does not apply to other trans minors in the state, a fact which Republicans—like state attorney general Todd Rokita—have gleefully pointed out. “The law (HEA 1041) remains in effect across the state and we will continue our work to defend this law and to protect Indiana’s K12 students,” he tweeted.
At the same time, the ruling creates a promising precedent as the legislation is being challenged in court. In her decision, US District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote, “The Court finds that AM has established a strong likelihood that she will succeed on the merits of her Title IX claim.” Title IX (of the Education Amendments of 1972) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Judge Magnus-Stinson also wrote, “The singling out of transgender females is unequivocally discrimination on the basis of sex, regardless of the policy argument as to why that choice was made.”
Ken Falk, who is representing AM through the ACLU, commented, “When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students — including trans people — on the basis of sex.”
Falk went on to celebrate the court victory: “We are pleased that Judge Magnus-Stinson has recognized this and required that AM be allowed to play on her school’s softball team.”