The families suing call transgender participation ‘biological unfairness’
The families of three female high school runners filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls’ sports. The families feel transgender athletes shouldn’t be able to compete due to a “biological unfairness.”
Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School, Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School and Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School (all in Connecticut) are represented by the conservative nonprofit organization Alliance Defending Freedom. They’re arguing that allowing transgender athletes to compete has deprived them of track titles and scholarship opportunities.
“Mentally and physically, we know the outcome before the race even starts,” says Smith. “That biological unfairness doesn’t go away because of what someone believes about gender identity. All girls deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field.”
The lawsuit was filed against the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the boards of education in Bloomfield, Cromwell, Glastonbury, Canton and Danbury. The Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law that says students must be treated in school by the gender with which they identify and the group believes the policy is “appropriate under both state and federal law.”
Last July, the girls’ families filed a Title IX complaint with the Alliance of Defending Freedom with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which is now investigating the Connecticut conference’s policy.
Two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, have consistently outperformed their cisgender competitors during meets. Between the two seniors, they’ve won 15 indoor and outdoor championship races during the past three years. The girls who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit say they “almost always” lose to Miller and Yearwood.
“Our dream is not to come in second or third place, but to win fair and square,” Mitchell says. “All we’re asking for is a fair chance.”
The attorney for the girls and their families, Christiana Holcomb, claims to allow the transgender students to compete among cisgender girls is a lesson in inequality. “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,” Holcomb says. “Connecticut’s policy violates that law and reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”
As for Miller and Yearwood, they aren’t backing down. “I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent,” Miller says in a statement to NBC News. “I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in athletics just like my peers to excel, find community, and meaning in my life. It is both unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored.”
Yearwood said she also is a girl and won’t let this lawsuit impede her success. “I will never stop being me!” she says. “I will never stop running! I hope that the next generation of trans youth doesn’t have to fight the fights that I have. I hope they can be celebrated when they succeed not demonized. For the next generation, I run for you!”