Judge rules trans girl can rejoin softball team in crucial victory against anti-trans sports ban

Stock image of a young girl holding a bat while a man coaches her in the background

An Indiana judge has ruled that a 10-year-old transgender girl can re-join her softball team in spite of a state sports ban.

The girl at the centre of the case, AM, came out as trans aged four. She joined the softball team in 2021, the same year that a court agreed to change her gender marker, and her mother has said it has helped her “come out of her shell” and feel “more at ease in her skin”.

However, on 1 July, a law banning trans people from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams came into effect in Indiana, ending AM’s involvement in the team.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit against the ban in May, and on Tuesday (26 July), a judge granted the girl a preliminary injunction.

This means she will be able to play for the team from August pending further litigation. The ruling applies only to AM, with the law remaining in place for any other trans child in Indiana.

The ACLU of Indiana will continue to fight AM’s case, arguing that the ban violates her rights under Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.

District judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote in her ruling that AM “has a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of her claim”.

The judge noted that the ban “does not prohibit all transgender athletes from playing with the team of the sex with which they identify – it only prohibits transgender females from doing so”.

“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,” Magnus-Stinson continued.

Kenneth Falk of the Indiana ACLU, who is representing AM, said: “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,” per News Max.

Following the ruling, other families with transgender children feel a sense of relief, and hope that the ruling will lead to the overturning of the anti-trans legislation.

“No one is trying to take anything away from anybody. We’re just trying to make a more inclusive space for children. We’re talking about children,” Beth Clawson, the mother of a trans girl, told WRTV.

Indianapolis Public Schools has said it will comply with the ruling and support all students, according to WRTV.

However, attorney general Todd Rokita has made clear the state will  fight to keep the law in effect.

Rokita tweeted on Tuesday: “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. The court’s ruling allows only this particular plaintiff to play this particular sport at this particular elementary school.”

In March, governor of Indiana Eric Holcomb vetoed the passing of the sports ban, formally HEA 1041. However, the state legislature overturned his decision.