The lawsuit was filed in February of 2020 in an effort to block transgender athletes from participating in women's sports in the state.
Two days after the filing of the case, Chelsea Mitchell of Canton High School edged transgender athlete Terry Miller of Bloomfield High School to win the Class S 55-meter dash in the Connecticut state championship. It was a tight race with Mitchell submitting a time of 7.18 seconds to Miller's 7.20 seconds.
"It's big because I've never beaten her before," Mitchell said.
Mitchell also won the long jump and the 300-meter dash, in which Miller came in 16th. The track rivals were also on the opposing sides of the legal battle, albeit indirectly.
The families of Mitchell and two other female high school runners filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that allowing athletes with male anatomy to compete has deprived the female student-athletes of track titles and scholarship opportunities.
At the center of the lawsuit were Miller and fellow transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell High School. (Related: Utah legislature advances bill banning transgender girls from female sports.)
The CIAC says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law, which states students must be treated in school by the gender with which they identify and the group believes the policy is "appropriate under both state and federal law."
According to Mitchell, the court's decision "tells women and girls that their feelings and opportunities don't matter" and that "they can't expect anyone to stand up for their dignity and their rights."
"That's wrong. And it chips away at women's confidence and our belief in our own abilities," she said.
Suddenly, her win over Miller in February last year doesn't seem that big anymore.
"I won that race, and I'm grateful," said Mitchell. "But time after time, I have lost. I've lost four women's state championship titles, two all-New England awards and numerous other spots on the podium to transgender runners."
Also, Mitchell only finished third in her favorite 55-meter dash in 2019 behind Miller and Yearwood. "With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again."
"It's discouraging that the federal district court has decided that these experiences — these lost opportunities — simply don't matter," Mitchell said. "But I'm not beaten yet. And neither are my fellow female athletes."
Through the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys, Mitchell and her fellow athletes are taking the case to the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. "We are going to ask once again for the court to recognize our right to fair competition," Mitchell said. "We're fighting not just for ourselves, but for all female athletes."
Mitchell pointed out that besides the psychological toll of experiencing unfair losses, the CIAC's policy robs girls of the chance to race in front of college scouts who show up for elite competitions and to compete for the scholarships and opportunities that come with college recruitment. (Related: Biden admin going to war with states in aggressive bid by the left to completely destroy women's sports.)
"I'll never know how my own college recruitment was impacted by losing those four state championship titles. When colleges looked at my record, they didn't see the fastest girl in Connecticut. They saw a second- or third-place runner," Mitchell said.
She related that her friend and fellow plaintiff, Selina Soule, was bumped from qualifying for the state championship's 55-meter final and an opportunity to qualify for the New England championship by a transgender runner in 2019.
With the CIAC allowing transgender athletes to compete in girls' and women's sports, Miller and Yearwood began racing in girls' track and field in 2017.
From 2017 to 2019, the two transgender athletes combined to take 15 girls' state track championship titles – which were held by nine different girls in 2016 – and more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher-level competitions that should have belonged to female track athletes.
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