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US Justice Department weighs in on transgender athletes civil suit

March 30, 2020 / Athletic Administration
A federal civil rights lawsuit aimed at blocking transgender athletes in the state of Connecticut from competing as the gender they identify as during varsity athletics has gotten the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General William Barr argued against the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), the governing body of the state’s high school athletic landscape, by signing a statement of interest on Tuesday, March 24, according to a story by the Associated Press that appeared in The Hartford Courant.

transgender athletes in women's sports
Photo: Christopher Newport University athletics

The CIAC allows athletes to compete as the gender they identify as, and said the conference is following a state law that requires high school students to be treated according to their gender identity. Additionally the CIAC argues the policy is in accordance with the federal law Title IX.

Barr, however, disagreed with the CIAC’s position.

“Under CIAC’s interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males — namely, those who publicly identify as female — compete against biological females,” Barr and the other department officials wrote. “In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”

» Related: New Jersey announces new rules for transgender athletes

According to the AP story, the lawsuit was filed in February by runners Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School; Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School; and Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School against the CIAC and several local boards of education.

“Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls — that’s the reason we have girls sports in the first place,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Christiana Holcomb said. “And a male’s belief about his gender doesn’t eliminate those advantages.”

» See more: Idaho lawmakers ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its lawyers represent the two transgender senior athletes, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who are not only among the best in the state but regarded as some of the top high school sprinters in the New England region.

For more information and details regarding the story from the Associated Press, click here.