Two months after three Connecticut judges ruled that transgender women could participate in women’s sports in high schools, a federal appeals court is reconsidering the case.
Four female athletes tried to overturn the policy, saying they were robbed of public recognition, athletic scholarships and better placements in meets because they were competing against «students who were born male.» The state allows those born boys to compete against girls if they identify as girls.
Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith and Ashley Nicoletti filed their lawsuit in February 2020 seeking a «fair shot» as two transgender sprinters. Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwoodhe consistently finished at or near the top in high school meetups.
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Mitchell finished third at the 2019 state championships in the girls’ 55m indoor track meet behind Miller and Yearwood. Miller and Yearwood were born biologically male but identify as female, and from 2017 until the lawsuit was filed, they had won a combined 15 indoor or outdoor girls’ state championship races.
Alliance Defending Freedom, an American conservative Christian nonprofit, represented the girls in the federal lawsuit, and an attorney for the organization, Christiana Kiefer, was pleased with the court’s decision to reconsider the challenge.
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“Every woman deserves the respect and dignity that comes with having an equal chance to excel and win in track and field, and ADF remains committed to protecting the future of women’s sport,” Kiefer said in a statement.
«Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys is not fair, it destroys their dreams and it destroys their sporting opportunities,» Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christiana Holcomb said at the time of the lawsuit.
«Having separate sports for boys and girls has always been based on biological differences, not on what people believe about their gender, because those differences are important 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 opportunity for women in education and athletics.»
The debate has become a much hotter topic in the past year, as Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, won an NCAA Division I national swimming championship.
«I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent,» Miller said when the lawsuit was filed. «I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in track and field just like my peers to excel, find community and meaning in my life. It is unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored.»
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Eighteen states have passed laws barring transgender women from competing in women’s sports, claiming it gives them an unfair advantage.
Chris Pandolfo of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.