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'There Are Biological Differences Between Males and Females': Girl Athletes Fight for Fair Playing Field

02-14-2020
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Female athletes in Connecticut are fighting for a fair playing field after being forced to compete with biological boys who have become transgender.
Selina Soule is one of three female athletes in Connecticut who are fighting for a fair playing field after being forced to compete with biological boys who have become transgender.

For the past several years, female high school athletes and their families across the country have been waking up to a growing reality: boys that identify as girls who want to compete against them.

These transgender students are biologically boys, but transgender activists say it's discrimination to restrict them in any way.

But three female track athletes in Connecticut say competing against male athletes is depriving them of fair competition and ultimately, the ability to compete at elite levels.

This week Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell,  and their mothers filed suit in federal court in Hartford, challenging the state policy that allows boys to compete against girls.

The complaint cites Title IX and biology.

"In track-and-field events that do not use equipment, the physiological differences between males and females after puberty are stark in the record books," it said. "Boys and men consistently run faster and jump higher and farther than girls and women."

Smith, the daughter of former Major League Baseball pitcher Lee Smith, said during a press conference that female athletes deserve fair competition--and explained how demoralizing it's been to compete against boys.

"I was defeated before stepping onto the track but I said nothing," she said. "I keep it to myself. A biological male had been breaking records in the girls' events he participated in."

The lawsuit focuses on two male track athletes in Connecticut who identify as female: Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood. 

Miller and Yearwood have combined to win 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017.

The three plaintiffs have competed directly against Miller and Yearwood, almost always losing to them. 

In 2019, Mitchell finished third in the state championship in the girls 55-meter indoor track competition, right behind Miller and Yearwood.

"Our dream is not to come in second or third place but to win fair and square," she said. "All we're asking for is a fair chance."

But Miller and Yearwood say they have the right to run in the girls' events.

"It is both unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored," said Miller.

Yearwood has vowed to keep running as a girl, explaining in a statement, "I hope that the next generation of trans youth doesn't have to fight the fights that I have. I hope they can be celebrated when they succeed, not demonized."

The ACLU plans to represent Yearwood and Miller.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian non-profit, is defending the girls.

"Forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics," said ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb.

ADF attorney Matt Sharp argues it's about fairness for biological females.

"Everyone knows that there are biological differences between males and females. And the whole reason we have laws like Title 9 that protect opportunities for females is in response to these realities."

The Connecticut Association of Schools and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law and is "appropriate" under federal law.

The girls' lawsuit follows a Title IX complaint that they filed last summer with the US Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.

The lawsuit spearheads a quickly growing movement against transgender activism.

Lawmakers in nine states are trying to level the playing field with bills to help protect female athletes, including measures such as requiring athletes to compete in the gender stated on their birth certificate. 

Currently, Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender athletes to compete with no restrictions, according to Transathlete.com.

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