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‘Extra lessons in losing’: Female track athletes sue Connecticut for letting males compete

They document the honors they lost to competition from males

Last summer the Department of Education opened a Title IX investigation of Connecticut athletics for letting biological males compete in girls’ track and field, which possibly denies “equal athletic benefits and opportunities to girls.”

It was prompted by an unusual occurrence: two biologically male runners who started dominating the sport in 2017 when the state first allowed transgender girls to compete against biological females.

The girls behind the federal complaint don’t want to wait for the agency to figure things out, however, as their high school careers come to an end.

They filed a lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and several school districts Wednesday, seeking a ban on “males—individuals with an XY genotype—from participating in events that are designated for girls, women, or females.”

Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell and Selina Soule (left to right, above) are also asking a federal judge to “remove male athletes from any record or recognition” they achieved in girls’ sports and “correctly give credit and/or titles” to girls who would have earned those marks in the absence of boys.

MORE: Connecticut under federal investigation for anti-female policy

A separate preliminary injunction application argues why the girls need the “Transgender Participation Policy” suspended for the duration of the litigation, pointing to the irreparable harm the plaintiffs will face if forced to spend the rest of their high school careers doomed to lose to boys:

Athletics is about physical bodies and physical capabilities, not about subjective identities. The length of leaps is measured, the speed of sprints is clocked, wrestling and tackling is gauged and rewarded. Indisputable science documents that, after puberty, male bodies have radical physiological advantages over comparably gifted and trained females … In athletic competition, males have—as even the CIAC Policy itself recognizes—an “unfair advantage.”

Unlike in their Title IX complaint, all three girls are named in the lawsuit. (Soule was previously the face of opposition to transgender participation.) Two are about the graduate, while the third is a sophomore:

Each Plaintiff has trained much of her life—striving to shave mere fractions of seconds off her race times—in order to experience the personal satisfaction of victory, gain opportunities to participate in state and regional meets, gain access to opportunities to be recruited and offered athletic scholarships by colleges, and more.

But Andraya Yearwood, Terry Miller and other boys who identify as girls are “displacing girls in competitive track events in Connecticut,” not only taking their honors but also the “public recognition critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities” for the girls.

This is a classic violation of Title IX, known best in its 48-year history for guaranteeing equal athletic opportunities for the sexes, the girls argue.

MORECompeted as man last year, won championship as woman this year

Unlike NCAA rules on transgender competition, Connecticut requires no time period of any length for male athletes to take testosterone-suppressing hormones before competing in a girls’ sport.

Even if Yearwood and Miller started taking them now, they would still have an advantage over girls in multiple physiological ways “bone size and hip configuration” as well as “muscle mass and strength, bone mineral density, lung size” and heart size, the suit says.

Reiterating the allegations in their agency complaint, the plaintiffs emphasize that Yearwood and Miller have taken as many girls’ championships between them as did nine biological females in 2016, the last year before the policy change.

An “impact statement” in the suit identifies more than 50 times in competitions since 2017 that “specific, identifiable girls have been denied” recognition as state first-place champions or advancement to higher levels of competition:

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 in an op-ed 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.

The three plaintiffs themselves have documented losses because of competition from Yearwood and Miller. Mitchell, for example, lost numerous honors: first place in the 55-meter at the indoor state championship, a gold medal and history as the first athlete from her school to be named a State Open Champion, which itself carries several benefits.

Instead of receiving the “accolades and publicity she earned, Chelsea Mitchell was repeatedly referred to in the press as the ‘third-place competitor,'” the suit says.

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IMAGE: Alliance Defending Freedom

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.