Connecticut's transgender athlete policy faces legal battle from female competitors

Four women in a New York courtroom today, are challenging a Connecticut school policy that allows transgender athletes to compete based on their gender identity-- rather than their biological sex. 

The four, led by Chelsea Mitchell, 20, are claiming the policy caused her and other girls to lose track of races while in high school.  

Mitchell says she was the fastest girl in Connecticut. But after state athletics allowed transgender athletes to compete in girl’s track and field in 2017, she lost more than 20 races and several prestigious awards. 

Mitchell says she will never know how those losses impacted her college recruitment and scholarship opportunities. 

It’s why she and three others are suing the Connecticut Association of Schools and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.  From her freshman to senior year, Mitchell says had to compete against transgendered athletes and consistently lost despite breaking records previously.

She initially filed a Title IX complaint. The Second Circuit Appeals court ruled against that claim in December. But Tuesday, the court is re-hearing the case. And Mitchell and the three other girls want the court to declare the policy violates Title IX.

"We’re going to have to demonstrate that Title IX was intended to protect girls in girls' sports. That’s a big issue," said John Bursch, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, who represents the women. 

The ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, who is defending the state’s transgender policy responded saying:

"There is enough room on the victory podium for transgender girls too. ...The court's previous decision affirmed that our clients played by the rules and that all girls, trans and cisgender, have a right to play under Title IX.  We hope the court will follow the facts and uphold its earlier decision. No matter what, we know that trans children should be loved, affirmed, and respected everywhere, including in our schools and on our sports teams."

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference also says it’s confident in its inclusionary policies.