US appeals court considers Idaho transgender athletes ban

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Idaho House of Representatives debates legislation in the Idaho Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. Idaho lawmakers moved forward with legislation banning transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates despite a federal court ruling declaring such a ban unconstitutional. An appeals court on Monday, May 3, 2021, will consider the constitutionality of the first law in the nation banning transgender women and girls from playing on women's sports teams. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case that will likely have far-ranging consequences as more states follow conservative Idaho's lead. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Idaho House of Representatives debates legislation in the Idaho Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. Idaho lawmakers moved forward with legislation banning transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates despite a federal court ruling declaring such a ban unconstitutional. An appeals court on Monday, May 3, 2021, will consider the constitutionality of the first law in the nation banning transgender women and girls from playing on women's sports teams. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case that will likely have far-ranging consequences as more states follow conservative Idaho's lead. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BOISE, Idaho – A U.S. appeals court on Monday gave little indication of how it might rule on the constitutionality of the first law in the nation banning transgender women and girls from playing on women’s sports teams.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard virtual arguments in the case that could have far-ranging consequences as more states follow conservative Idaho’s lead.

Idaho passed its law last year, and more than 20 states have considered such proposals this year. Bans have been enacted in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. Florida lawmakers passed a bill, and South Dakota’s governor issued an executive order.

On Monday, conservative Republican lawmakers in Kansas failed to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s school sports.

The judges on Monday focused at one point on whether the case was still relevant because one of the plaintiffs, Lindsay Hecox, had dropped out of Boise State University after failing to qualify for the women's cross country team. Her attorney said Hecox planned to return in the fall and try out for the team again.

Judges also questioned whether the other plaintiff, who feared invasive tests to prove her gender that are outlined in the law, had standing to sue because she is not transgender and her gender identity had not been challenged.

It's possible the court could rule the case is no longer relevant and dismiss it without ruling on its merits.

Roger Brooks, an attorney with a Christian conservative group defending the Idaho law, said he hoped that would not happen because the case needed a definitive ruling.