A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Selina Soule and three other Connecticut high school female athletes who were deprived of honors and athletic opportunities because they were forced to compete against two biological boys.

The athletes’ lawsuit challenged a rule of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference that allows transgender athletes to compete as either male or female, in accordance with their gender identity. Soule missed qualifying for the New England track and field regionals by two spots in her top event. Chelsea Mitchell, another plaintiff in the lawsuit, would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55-meter indoor track competition, but two males took first and second place.

The athletes argued that the policy is in direct violation of the federal statute known as Title IX. But U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny dismissed the case as moot because the two transgender athletes graduated from high school and are no longer competing in Connecticut interscholastic sports. Both Soule and Mitchell also graduated, but two other plaintiffs have another year of high school eligibility.  

“I conclude that the request to enjoin enforcement of the CIAC policy has become moot due to the graduation of [the transgender athletes], whose participation in girls’ track provided the impetus for this action,” Judge Chatigny wrote. “There is no indication that [plaintiffs who remain eligible for competition] will encounter competition by a transgender student in a CIAC-sponsored event next season.”

Since two of the plaintiffs are juniors, it is possible that they might be required to compete against a transgender athlete should a biological male choose to compete in their events.

Plaintiffs say they will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

“Our clients—like all female athletes—deserve access to fair competition; that means authentically equal opportunities to compete, achieve, and win,” said Christiana Holcomb, counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom who represents the plaintiffs. “But competition is no longer fair when males are permitted to compete in girls’ sports.”

Soule, who is continuing her track career at the College of Charleston, added,

Today’s decision ignores the unfairness of the CIAC’s policy, which allows biological males who identify as female to compete in the girls’ category. During all four years of high school, I worked incredibly hard to shave fractions of a second off of my time, only to lose to athletes who had an unfair physical advantage. I don’t want any other girl to experience the pain and heartbreak I had to go through, and I will continue to stand up for fairness in women’s sports for as long as it takes.

Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom