“At this point, I have been provided with scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all, let alone an important problem,” Goodwin wrote in his ruling.
LGBTQ advocates swiftly cheered the West Virginia ruling, stressing that it could pave the way for similar decisions in cases concerning other anti-trans laws. So far this year, Alabama, Florida, South Dakota, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Montana have enacted similar sports bans.
“It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, an attorney with Lambda Legal, in a statement.
Goodwin wrote in his ruling that “forcing a girl to compete on the boys’ team when there is a girls’ team available would cause her unnecessary distress and stigma,” adding that it would also create confusion for coaches and teammates.
“And not only would B.P.J. be excluded from girls’ sports completely; she would be excluded because of who she is: a transgender girl.”
“I’m absolutely all in, because I do not think that from the standpoint of our girls, that we ought to allow a situation to where, you know, for whatever reason may be, we end up with a superior athlete that could just knock our girls right out of the competition,” he said at a news conference.
Loree Stark, the legal director for the ACLU of West Virginia, said in a statement Wednesday that “we’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today.”
“We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news,” she added.
CNN has reached out to Justice’s office for comment, as well as to West Virginia House Education Chairman Joe Ellington, a Republican who was one of the bill’s sponsors.