Two Idaho State University student-athletes have filed a motion in federal district court in support of Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act − the controversial law that bans transgender women and girls from competing outside of their birth-given sex.
Madison Kenyon and Mary Kate Marshall, women who compete on ISU’s cross country and track and field teams, filed the motion Tuesday to intervene in a lawsuit that challenges the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. That lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Boise State University student Lindsay Hecox and an unnamed student at Boise High School, argues that the law is unconstitutional and violates Title IX. Kenyon and Marshall are asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.
Hecox, 19, is a transgender woman who hopes to try out for Boise State’s women’s cross country team in August 2020, according to the ACLU’s lawsuit filed April 15. The unnamed Boise High School student is a 17-year-old, non-transgender female athlete, according to the lawsuit.
Under existing NCAA rules for inclusion of transgender athletes, Hecox is eligible to join a women’s collegiate sports team, the lawsuit states.
“I just want to run with other girls on the team,” Hecox said in an ACLU press release. “I run for myself, but part of what I enjoy about the sport is building the relationships with a team. I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls team.”
The ban, which Gov. Brad Little signed into law in late March, is the first of its kind in the United States. It bars transgender women and girls from competing on girls and women’s sports teams, citing that “inherent, physiological differences between males and females result in different athletic capabilities.”
The law also states that an athlete may dispute their sex by “presenting a signed physician’s statement” that indicates the athlete’s sex based on reproductive anatomy and testosterone levels.
Kenyon and Marshall have experience competing against a transgender woman.
June Eastwood, a transgender woman at the University of Montana, competed on the school’s men’s cross country and track and field teams for three years before transitioning and joining the school’s women’s cross country and track teams. Eastwood won the Big Sky Conference indoor track championship in the mile this past February.
The ISU athletes’ motion details several instances of competing against Eastwood, and how the times and results for them or their teammates were affected by competing against Eastwood.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Eastwood took testosterone suppressants for 12 months before competing against women, thereby complying with NCAA policies.
“(Kenyon and Marshall) were incredulous and appalled to discover last year that ... Eastwood was authorized to compete in women’s cross country and track events,” the ISU athletes’ motion states. “Both (Kenyon) and (Marshall) had the deflating experiences of running against and losing to Eastwood and being knocked down a placement level because of his participation. They found the experience of losing to a male runner categorically different than losing to a female.”
Kenyon and Marshall also expressed concern over potentially competing against Hecox if she’s allowed to join the cross country or track teams at Boise State.
“I believe everyone should be able to compete, but it must be done fairly,” Kenyon said in the motion. “It is not fair for women’s competitions to be open to biological male athletes. Women’s sport itself will lose its meaning, and its specialness, if males can be redefined as females.”