Women are leading the charge to put laws in place to protect female athletes from competing against biological male “transgender” competitors and their passion for the issue was on display at an online event, “Connecticut Athletics: Girls Speak,” on Thursday.
These women represent an unlikely alliance between a self-described “radical feminist organization,” a conservative family, faith and freedom advocacy group, and three high school girls. And this coalition that is gaining national attention as activists push for biological men who say they have a female “gender identity” to compete girls school sports.
The three girls — Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell — filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s decision to allow boys to compete against them if they “identify” as girls.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the trio and the Women’s Liberation Front (WOLF) has put its advocacy firmly behind the effort as an organization that fights for the “rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls.”
Add to those forces Beth Stelzer, an amateur powerlifter who believes in a level playing field for women so much so she launched Save Women’s Sports in 2019, a coalition of people dedicated to making sure biology not ideology inform school sports policies.
Stelzer and WOLF hosted the webinar, which was supposed to be a live event but was held online because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Kara Danksy, who is on WOLF’s board, started off the online event sharing why this issue has caused people to come together to back a common cause.
She said it has come to the point in the national narrative that “simply speaking up for ourselves is hate speech.”
ADF’s legal counsel Christiana Holcomb, who also took part in the webinar, had earlier responded to President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice’s support of the lawsuit, which it said violates the federal Title IX statute to protect girls in schools from discrimination based on their biological sex.
“Girls shouldn’t be reduced to spectators in their own sports,” Holcomb said. “Allowing males to compete in the female category isn’t fair and destroys girls’ athletic opportunities.
“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,” Holcomb said. “And a male’s belief about his gender doesn’t eliminate those advantages.”
But the most moving stories came from the teenage athletes who have had their hard work and dreams dashed when forced to compete against males.
At the 2019 Indoor Track and Field State Championships, Soule came in third behind two men racing against her. As a result she did not qualify for the New England Regional Championships and could not attend the event where college scouts could have seen her compete.
She said she joined the lawsuit not only because she wants not just to participate in sports but win, but that competing against biological men is unfair.
“That’s not bigotry,” Soule said. “That’s science.”
High schooler Alana Smith said she was “born to be an athlete” and loves competing — if that competition is fair.
“Biological unfairness doesn’t disappear because of what you believe is your gender identity,” Smith said.
Chelsea Mitchell is a senior in high school and one of the fastest female sprinters in Connecticut but was denied the title of state champion four times because she had to compete against male athletes.
The transgender policy, she said, “puts us on the sidelines instead of the podium.”
Mitchell’s mom Christy said that she was shocked to learn groups like the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation took the side of the “transgender” biological male athletes.
“I felt very betrayed by it,” Mitchell said.
The women said on the webinar that they were encouraged by a law just passed in Idaho, the first state to successfully put in place a law that prohibits biological males from competing in girls sports.