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Utah athletes fight transgender sports ban: ‘This law devastated me’

(Darryl Webb/USA TODAY Network)

A civil rights lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Utah by the families of two transgender girls in response to a law that bans transgender athletes from competing in school sports that match their gender identities.

One of the mothers said that the law “feels like an attack on our family.”

“Parents want their kids to be happy and to be surrounded by people who love and nurture them,” the mother said. “This law does the opposite—it tells my daughter that she doesn’t belong and that she is unworthy of having the same opportunities as other students at her school.”

Her daughter, one of the two athletes in the lawsuit, detailed how she wants to “play on a team like any other kid.” The families are filing the suit anonymously to protect the two girls.

“My last season playing volleyball was one of the best times of my life. I loved my teammates, felt part of something bigger than myself, and finally had a way to socialize with friends after being cooped up during the pandemic,” the girl said. “This law devastated me.”

Governor Spencer Cox vetoed the ban in March, but the veto was overridden by the state’s legislature.

The complaint, which was filed in the 3rd District Court by the ACLU of Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, alleges that the ban is discriminatory against the girls because they are transgender and denies equal opportunity for sports participation.

Utah is one of 18 U.S. states as of May 24 that have passed either laws or an executive order that limits the participation of transgender athletes in sport, according to the New York Times.

State lawmakers often have cited the need to “preserve the integrity of women’s sports” in their rationale for such laws.