Three female track athletes in Connecticut recently filed a federal lawsuit over policies that allow transgender athletes to compete in female sports.
Three high school girls and their mothers have decided to face off against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) in a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday. According to the suit, the three girls, Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell are calling out the fact that the CIAC has “permitted boys to compete in events and win awards that would otherwise have gone to girls.”
In their suit, the girls, who are being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), claim they “were denied opportunities to compete at higher levels as boys took home the prizes.” The suit also notes that “CIAC’s policy allowed two males to compete in girls’ athletic competitions beginning in the 2017 track season. In total, those two boys have won “15 women’s state championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different Connecticut girls) and have taken more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher-level competitions from female track athletes in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone,” according to the lawsuit.
One of the plaintiffs, Mitchell, is “currently ranked the fastest biological girl in Connecticut in the 55m.” However, she has lost four girls’ state championships and two All-New England awards to biological males. When recalling those competitions she said, “I knew that I was the fastest girl here, one of the fastest in the state. I remembered all my training and everything I had been taught on how to maximize my performance…I thought of all the times that other girls have lost. I could feel the adrenaline in my blood and hope that wafted from me. That just possibly, I could win this. Then, the gun went off. And I lost.”
Soule has also missed out on opportunities because of the CIAC policy. According to the suit, she “missed qualifying for the state championship 55m final and an opportunity to qualify for the New England championship by one spot in the 2018-19 season as two spots were taken by boys.” Understandably she was left feeling frustrated and said, “She said, “It’s heartbreaking when us girls are at the start of the race and we already know that these male athletes are going to come out and win no matter how hard you try. They took away the spots of deserving girls, athletes…me being included.”
Smith, too, has missed out on opportunities for the same reason. When discussing having to compete against biological males in a female sport, she said, “Even before I get to the track, I already know that I’m not going to get first place, or maybe even second place…I know that no matter how hard I work, I won’t be able to have the top spot.”
ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb chimed in on the matter and said:
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities. Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition. And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics. Connecticut’s policy violates that law and reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”
The suit further states:
“Policies that permit boys to compete in girls sports threaten Title IX gains because inescapable biological facts of the human species are not stereotypes, ‘social constructs,’ or relicts of past discrimination. As a result of these many inherent physiological differences between men and women after puberty, male athletes consistently achieve records 10-20% higher than comparably-fit and trained women across almost all athletic events, with even wider consistent disparities in long-term endurance events and contests of sheer strength such as weight-lifting….In sum, the real-world result of the CIAC Policy is that in Connecticut interscholastic track competitions, while highly competitive girls are experiencing the no doubt character-building ‘agony of defeat,’ they are systematically being deprived of a fair and equal opportunity to experience the ‘thrill of victory.’ A transgender athlete advocate recently wrote that this should be accepted because part of competitive sports is ‘learning to lose.’ A policy such as the CIAC Policy that ensures that girls get extra lessons in losing, however, cannot be reconciled with Title IX.”