Appeals Court Dismisses Connecticut Transgender Athlete Case

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A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a case challenging a Connecticut policy that allows transgender students born male to compete against girls in high school athletic competitions.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York upheld a lower court’s decision to reject a lawsuit filed on behalf of four female athletes. The athletes argued they were unfairly deprived of honors and opportunities to compete at higher levels statewide because of a policy that allowed males who identify as female to compete against girls.

Judges Denny Chin, Beth Robinson, and Susan Carney ruled the four female athletes lacked standing to sue partly because their claims that they were deprived of wins, state titles, and athletic scholarship opportunities were speculative.

“All four Plaintiffs regularly competed at state track championships as high school athletes, where Plaintiffs had the opportunity to compete for state titles in different events,” the ruling stated (pdf).

On numerous occasions, the four female athletes—Chelsea Mitchell, Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti—finished first in various events, “even sometimes when competing against” the two transgender athletes, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, the judges noted.

“Plaintiffs simply have not been deprived of a ‘chance to be champions,’” the judges added.

Chin and Carney were appointed by former President Barack Obama, and Robinson was appointed by President Joe Biden.

transgender athlete
Bloomfield High School transgender athlete Terry Miller (2nd L) wins the final of the 55-meter dash over transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood (L) and other runners in the Connecticut girls Class S indoor track meet at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 7, 2019. (Pat Eaton-Robb/AP Photo)

Female Athletes Deserve ‘Fair Competition’

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative legal organization, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the four female athletes.

“The 2nd Circuit got it wrong, and we’re evaluating all legal options, including appeal. Our clients—like all female athletes—deserve access to fair competition,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer in a statement.

She added: “Every woman deserves the respect and dignity that comes with having an equal opportunity to excel and win in athletics, and ADF remains committed to protecting the future of women’s sports.”

Mitchell lost four women’s state track titles when transgender competitors Miller and Yearwood began racing in Connecticut girls’ high school track meets in 2017, the judges noted.

In the three years after 2017, Miller and Yearwood broke 17 girls’ track meet records, which ADF argued deprived females of over 85 opportunities to compete at the next level.

Transgender Policy

If it weren’t for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Council (CIAC) policy, Mitchell would be the record holder of four additional state champion titles, the lawsuit alleged.

Additionally, the other plaintiffs argue they would have placed higher in their meets.

Their complaint alleged that if not for the CIAC policy, Nicoletti would have placed seventh in the 2019 Class S State Championship Women’s Outdoor 100-meter preliminary race, and advanced to the 100-meter final.

Similarly, Smith would have placed second in the 2019 State Open Championship Women’s Outdoor 200-meter final, the plaintiffs argued.

Soule would have placed sixth in the 2019 State Open Championship Women’s Indoor 55-meter preliminary race, and advanced to the 55-meter final, according to the plaintiffs.

Their claims were dismissed by the lower court partly on the grounds that it became moot once the transgender students graduated in June 2020 and because they lacked standing to seek an injunction to change past athletic records because their “theory of redressability was too speculative.”

The appeals court upheld this ruling.

Epoch Times Photo
Women protest as Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the women’s 200 freestyle final at the NCAA swimming and diving championships at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga., on March 18, 2022. (John Bazemore/AP Photo)

Title IX

The 2013 CIAC policy allows transgender students to compete in high school competitions designated for the gender they identify with.

CIAC argued in court that its policy was in compliance with state law requiring all high school students to be treated according to their gender identity. The council also claimed that the policy conforms with Title IX, the federal legislation that provides equal educational opportunities for girls.

Title IX made it illegal for federally supported educational institutions to discriminate against students and workers based on sex. Its enactment in 1972, in its original form, led to more girls finishing high school and college and boosted the number of female athletes in high school and college sports and athletics.

The protection extended to transgender students once the definition of “sex” was expanded under the Biden administration to include the fuzzier political concept of gender identity.

Caden Pearson

Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. Contact him on

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