Sprinter Chelsea Mitchell is gearing up for a marathon battle as she and other female athletes fight back against Connecticut rules that allow men to compete in women’s sports.
Mitchell recently spoke about her fight to save women’s sports from political correctness in an Op-Ed for USA Today.
Connecticut allows males who say they are females to compete against women, framing its policies as support for transgender athletes.
Mitchell is among four athletes — all top runners until they had to compete against men — who sued Connecticut over its rules. In April, a federal court threw out the lawsuit, according to the Hartford Courant. The suit had the support of the Justice Department during the Trump administration, but the Biden administration withdrew any support for the female athletes.
In her Op-Ed, Mitchell outlined why she was suing, noting that despite eking out some victories against males competing as females, “time after time, I have lost. I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two transgender runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again,” she wrote.
“That’s a devastating experience. It tells me that I’m not good enough; that my body isn’t good enough; and that no matter how hard I work, I am unlikely to succeed, because I’m a woman,” she wrote.
She noted that fairness is at the heart of the suit filed in cooperation with the Alliance Defending Freedom against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, saying “girls and women shouldn’t be stripped of their right to fair competition.”
She summarized what took place after the state body let men who identify as women run with biological women.
“In the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone, these males took 15 women’s state track championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different girls) and more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions that belonged to female track athletes,” she said.
Mitchell said what is obvious on the track, should be obvious to anyone making the rules; “That’s because males have massive physical advantages. Their bodies are simply bigger and stronger on average than female bodies. It’s obvious to every single girl on the track.”
She said the court’s dismissal of the lawsuit “tells women and girls that their feelings and opportunities don’t matter, and that they can’t expect anyone to stand up for their dignity and their rights. That’s wrong. And it chips away at women’s confidence and our belief in our own abilities.”
Noting that “the race is stacked against me,” she said there is a tangible price paid by women who cannot win the scholarships they deserve.
“I’ll never know how my own college recruitment was impacted by losing those four state championship titles. When colleges looked at my record, they didn’t see the fastest girl in Connecticut. They saw a second- or third-place runner,” she wrote.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@AllianceDefends) May 22, 2021
Mitchell noted that the race is not over.
“I’m not beaten yet. And neither are my fellow female athletes. Through our ADF attorneys, my fellow athletes and I are appealing the federal district court’s ruling. We’re taking our case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, where we are going to ask once again for the court to recognize our right to fair competition — a right that Title IX has promised to girls and women for 50 years. And we’re fighting not just for ourselves, but for all female athletes,” she wrote.
“So as we prepare for this next step in the case, I’m settling into my starting blocks again, but for a different kind of race. And this time, I’m confident that we can win,” she wrote.
Like many high school athletes, Chelsea Mitchell invested years of hard work to be a track star. But no amount of training could prepare her to compete against male athletes.#WATCH her story here: https://t.co/vz7q7oEl2M#sexnotgender #fairplay @AllianceDefends #SaveWomensSports pic.twitter.com/1TqEwFvzKg
— Christiana Holcomb (@ChristianaADF) September 8, 2020
In announcing that it would appeal, the ADF said women’s sports cannot be destroyed.
“Our clients — like all female athletes — deserve access to fair competition; that means authentically equal opportunities to compete, achieve, and win. But competition is no longer fair when males are permitted to compete in girls’ sports,” ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said, according to an ADF press release.
“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. Unfortunately, this court has chosen to ignore our clients’ demoralizing experiences of losing to male runners. But these committed female athletes—and young women across the country — deserve better. Today, the conversation centers on Connecticut’s high school track and field program, but there’s something bigger at stake here: Girls and women deserve opportunities that are truly equal — without being sidelined or dominated by males choosing to join their sport.”
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