Three high school athletes from Connecticut have filed a federal discrimination complaint over policies protecting the rights of trans athletes.
The girls, who participate in track and field sports, say that the policy has cost them top-place finishes. They also say it may affect their college scholarship applications.
Their lawsuit is regarding the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) rule. This policy – which follows statewide anti-discrimination laws – allows athletes to compete in sports which correspond with their gender identity.
The suit was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian law firm, on behalf of the high schoolers on Monday (1 June).
The ADF claims that allowing trans girls to compete in sports can deprive their cisgender counterparts of ‘opportunities for participation, recruitment, and scholarships’
They seek to reverse the CIAC rule, arguing it violates a separate law which ensures equal rights for male and female athletes.
‘The genders are segregated for a reason’
The only girl involved in the complaint to identify herself was Glastonbury junior sprinter Selina Soule.
The ADF claims that Soule has feared ‘retaliation’ over her mother’s complaints about the policy on trans athletes.
Her mother, Bianca Stanescu, has circulated petitions, stating state legislature should dictate that unless trans athletes have undergone hormone therapy, they should be made to compete as their birth gender.
‘We never got anywhere with the CIAC,’ Soule told The Courant about her mother’s petition.
‘The genders are segregated for a reason. They might as well just say women don’t exist as a category.’
Two trans high school athletes were identified in the complaint. The two are still able to compete in events which correspond with their gender identity.
Polarising debate over trans athletes
The Connecticut lawsuit is another instance of the polarising debate surrounding trans athletes.
Critics have maintained that because some trans women have an advantage over cisgender women because they have larger bodies.
However, medical tests have shown that this is not always the case, particularly in sports requiring speed and agility.
Additionally, experts have said that trans women who regularly take estrogen do not have an advantage. Trans rights advocates have also pointed out how few trans world champions there are.
In recent months, a number of former athletes have publically stated their opposition to allowing trans women to competing in female sporting events.
This includes long-distance runner, Paula Radcliff, tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, and former Olympic swimmer, Shannon Davies.
Trans rights advocates have described Radcliff and Navratilova’s comments as ‘transphobic’ on numerous occasions.
In May, a trans woman powerlifter was stripped of four championships after breaking four world records. Mary Gregory’s titles were revoked after 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation president Paul Bossi described her as ‘a male in the process of becoming a Transgender female’.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) began allowing athletes who are transitioning from male to female to participate without restriction.
IOC rules state that those transitioning must maintain their testosterone levels below a certain level for at least 12 months.