A federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference that sought to prevent transgender female athletes from competing in girls high school sports. The plaintiffs, four cisgender females, said through their attorney that they would appeal the ruling.
“I conclude that the plaintiffs’ challenge to the CIAC policy is not justiciable at this time and their claims for monetary relief are barred and dismiss the action on this basis without addressing the other grounds raised in the joint motion,” U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny wrote in a ruling released Sunday.
The two transgender female athletes, Terry Miller of Bloomfield and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, have graduated along with at least two of the plaintiffs in the case. The remaining two plaintiffs, according to Chatigny, have been unable to identify a transgender athlete that they might possibly compete against.
“I conclude that the request to enjoin enforcement of the CIAC policy has become moot due to the graduation of Yearwood and Miller, whose participation in girls’ track provided the impetus for this action,” Chatigny wrote. “There is no indication that [Alanna] Smith and [Ashley] Nicoletti will encounter competition by a transgender student in a CIAC-sponsored event next season.”
In a statement Monday, the CIAC said they are pleased with the decision.
“The district court’s decision recognized that the CIAC policy reflects the federal guidance in place at the time it was adopted, and that there is no basis for a claim for damages against public schools who participate in CIAC sponsored athletics,” the organization said.
The plaintiffs, through their Christian law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom, said they would appeal the ruling.
“It’s discouraging that the court ruled to dismiss my right to compete on a level playing field,” Chelsea Mitchell, one of the plaintiffs, said. “Today’s ruling ignores the physical advantages that male athletes have over female athletes. Female athletes like me should have the opportunity to excel and compete fairly. No girl should have to settle into her starting blocks knowing that, no matter how hard she works, she doesn’t have a fair shot at victory.”
Christiana Holcomb of Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the four female athletes, said “Our clients—like all female athletes—deserve access to fair competition; that means authentically equal opportunities to compete, achieve, and win. But competition is no longer fair when males are permitted to compete in girls’ sports.”
With a new administration in place, the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights withdrew their support for the lawsuit and the Office of Civil Rights removed its enforcement action against the CIAC in the Title IX complaint. The complaint was filed in 2019, followed by the lawsuit. The pandemic ended the 2020 season and two of the plaintiff’s, Selina Soule and Mitchell, have graduated.
The appeal will be made to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“During all four years of high school, I worked incredibly hard to shave fractions of a second off of my time, only to lose to athletes who had an unfair physical advantage,” Soule said. “I don’t want any other girl to experience the pain and heartbreak I had to go through, and I will continue to stand up for fairness in women’s sports for as long as it takes.”
The CIAC maintained that it did the right thing by allowing the transgender females to participate in the competitions.
“The CIAC believes that its current policy is appropriate under both state and federal law,” the organization said back in February 2020.
According to Transathlete, Connecticut is one of 16 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions. Eleven states have restrictions on transgender athletes, 10 have no clear policy, and 14 require invasive medical disclosures.