Female high school athletes still fighting Connecticut’s ‘unfair’ policy allowing biological males in girls’ sports

Female athletes are continuing their pushback against Connecticut’s policy allowing biological males to compete against them in high school sports. 

Track athletes Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell and Ashley Nicoletti sued the state in 2020, but a judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the two biological male athletes had graduated. On Thursday, the girls’ attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom argued before an appeals court to reinstate the case. 

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs simply seek to bring “fairness” back to female sports in the state, according to a report by Fox News. 

Soule said she sued to fight “for fairness in women’s sports,” because she was “forced to compete against biological males in the girls’ category” throughout her high school athletic career, calling the experience “very frustrating and demoralizing,” in an interview with Fox News last year.  

“There are real, legitimate differences between the sexes, and when the law doesn’t recognize those differences it’s primarily women and girls that take the brunt of that harm,” Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner told Fox News, “and that’s what we’re seeing in Connecticut. And the Biden order nationalizes that harm.”  

A January 2021 executive order by President Biden on his first day in office updated Title IX to include “preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,” and requires schools across the nation to allow transgender athletes to participate in the sport of their gender identity. 

“I think that biology should be the reason why the sports are separated, and that’s why they have been separated,” Soule said, “and that’s why Title IX was enacted, is because there are biological differences between a man and woman, and there’s nothing that can be done to change that.” 

Soule says when she was forced to compete against biological males, she knew she would never be able to beat them because of their physical advantages, adding that competing against two biological males ultimately cost her a spot in the New England Regional Championships. 

“I lost out on the opportunity to qualify for the regional New England meet in 2019 because I was beaten by two biological males, and if they were not there in the race then I would have been able to qualify for the meet. It’s just a very frustrating experience, because all we hope to gain by this is fairness to be restored to our sport.” 

Alliance Defending Freedom is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to overturn the April ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny and to reinstate the case. 

Christiana Kiefer, ADF senior counsel working on the appeal, argues the inclusion of transgender protections is a “complete redefinition” of Title IX: “That’s not only unlawful, but as we’ve seen in the state of Connecticut, will absolutely devastate women’s sports. 

“Multiple times, our clients were the fastest girl in a race, and they were not acknowledged as such. Girls like Selina deserve to compete on a level playing field.”  

Ultimately, Soule hopes legislators will take the necessary measures to protect women’s sports and allow girls a fair opportunity to participate and win in competitive sports. 

“I just want to ensure that no other little girl has to experience the pain and heartbreak that I went through in high school,” she said.