Four female high school track-and-field athletes in Connecticut are taking their legal challenge against the state’s transgender sports policy to the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The court will review a policy that allows high school students to compete on teams based on their gender identity, regardless of the sex on their birth certificate. The athletes argue that this policy puts girls at a disadvantage in sports when they have to compete against athletes with the physical advantages of males. They believe that this policy conflicts with Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.
The case has already been dismissed once by a three-judge panel as “speculative.” A district court also delayed a ruling for 14 months before ultimately dismissing it, stating that the lawsuit could not proceed as the male athletes had already graduated. Now, the female athletes are hoping that the 2nd Circuit will recognize the importance of their claims and restore fairness to women’s sports.
Supporters of the policy argue that striking it down would discriminate against transgender athletes by preventing them from participating on all-female teams. Organizations like the ACLU have pledged to defend the policy, asserting that all girls, both transgender and cisgender, have the right to play under Title IX.
The defendants, including the Connecticut Association of Schools, maintain that the policy is legal and that the plaintiffs have no valid grounds to challenge it. They argue that the races cannot be redone and that the challengers cannot seek monetary damages.
Alanna Smith, one of the students involved in the lawsuit, remains hopeful that the 2nd Circuit will address the issue and restore fairness to women’s sports. The Alliance Defending Freedom, representing the plaintiffs, expects that the appeals court may not fully address the merits of the case at this stage but is optimistic that the lawsuit will be allowed to move forward and present their complete arguments.
A decision on this controversial issue is expected in the next few months.