A civil rights complaint filed on behalf of three female high school track stars alleges that allowing transgender girls to compete against them violates their Title IX rights.
The complaint was filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. It requests an investigation of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), a non-profit organization that serves as the governing body for high school athletics in the state.
Backing the high school athletes from Connecticut is Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit legal organization whose other causes include defunding Planned Parenthood. Founded by 30 Christian Right leaders, the ADF is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Connecticut is one of 24 U.S. states that have woven trans-inclusive policies into their sports programs, according to CNN. Connecticut’s non-discrimination law protecting transgender people has been on the books since 2011, according to the LGBTQ athletics site Outsports.com.
The policies in 12 other states are considered “harmful, exclusive or invasive” to transgender identity, the LGBTQ rights group GLSEN told CNN.
Two of the athletes are anonymous, the complaint says, “for fear of retaliation.” The third is Selina Soule. In a blog post, the ADF alleged that Selina’s eighth-place finish in the 55-meter dash, one spot from qualifying for a race that would have put her in front of college scouts, happened because “biological males” who’d been allowed to compete as girls had taken first and second place.
The ADF names the two transgender athletes who are supposedly benefiting, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, referring to them throughout the document as “male in every biological and physiological respect.”
Andraya is one of the subjects in a documentary that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, “Changing the Game,” which recounts the stories of trans athletes.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing female athletes to compete against boys is grossly unfair and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb in a statement.
But trans athlete Athena del Rosario, a former NCAA soccer goalie and a member of the U.S. professional women’s beach handball team, noted to Outsports.com that prospective colleges look at finish times, not placement.
“It sounds like they’re trying to use this incident as proof that they’re being disenfranchised despite the fact cis women outnumber trans people, let alone trans high school track and field runners (a super small margin of the trans community) by a lot,” trans pro volleyball player Chloe Psyche Anderson told Outsports.com.
To GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard, the complaint read like a blatant attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
“This is a serious lawsuit brought about by a parent, and the Alliance Defending Freedom as part of a broader effort to bar trans students from equal access in sports,” Byard told CNN. “Trans girls are girls, and they should have access to all parts of school.”
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