In what is an inevitable step in the ongoing debate over where transgender athletes fit into the binary male and female sporting system, a group of high school athletes in Connecticut have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s trans-inclusive policy in regard to high school athletics. The state is one of 17 that have trans-inclusive athletics policies.
A conservative religious group called The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit this week on behalf of a group of students who are challenging the state’s policy that allows trans athletes to compete based on their gender identity. This is the 2nd suit filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom after they filed a Title IX complaint last summer.
The suit alleges that “inescapable biological facts of the human species [are] not stereotypes, ‘social constructs,’ or relics of past discrimination.”
“That biological unfairness doesn’t go away because of what someone believes about gender identity,” said Alanna Smith, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, who is a sophomore at Danbury High School. “All girls deserve to compete on a level playing field.”
Danbury High School won last year’s CIAC High School State Championship in the open division.
The plaintiffs in the case name two high school seniors in Connecticut who are transgender student-athletes. In a statement, one of those seniors Terry Miller said that she feels that this is another case of discrimination, which she has faced her whole life.
“So many young trans people face exclusion at school and in athletics and it contributes to the horrible pain and discrimination that my community faces,” she said. “There is a long history of excluding black girls from sports and policing our bodies. I am a runner, and I will keep running and keep fighting for my existence, my community and my rights.”
Miller was the top qualifier for finals in the girls 100 meter dash before being disqualified for a false start. She won the 200 meter dash and was a member of the winning Bloomfield High School 4×400 meter relay. During her sophomore year of high school Miller set Connecticut open-class state records in the girls’ 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash. The other athlete named, Andraya Yearwood, finished 4th in the girls 100 meter dash last season as a junior.
As compared to policies held by USA Swimming, the NCAA, and the International Olympic Committee, Connecticut does not require transgender athletes to undergo hormone therapy to participate in sports.
The suit is being fought by the ACLU of Connecticut.
“The language of the complaint, which deliberately misgenders transgender youth and demands that high school athletics be organized by chromosomes, is an assault on the basic dignity and humanity of transgender people and a threat to the privacy and equality of all students,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement. Last year, the ACLU published a report title “Banning Trans Girls from School Sports Is Neither Feminist Nor Legal,” addressing the argument that policies allowing transgender students to compete in girls’ athletics is anti-women.
The CIAC, which governs high school sports in Connecticut, released this statement:
CHESHIRE, Conn. – The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) is committed to equity in providing opportunities to student athletes in Connecticut. In 2013 the CIAC adopted its current policy regarding transgender participation in athletics. When first adopting that policy and when subsequently reviewing it, the CIAC consulted with and relied on statements and advice from numerous bodies and organizations, including the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Connecticut State Department of Education, the National Federation of State High School Associations, and the Office for Civil Rights. The CIAC believes that its current policy is appropriate under both state and federal law, and it has been defending that policy in the complaint that was filed previously with the Office of Civil Rights. Although OCR’s investigation is still pending, the CIAC is aware that a lawsuit has now also been filed in federal court. The CIAC will respond to that lawsuit after we have a chance to review it further.