Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Connecticut high school runners Selina Soule, Alana Smith and Chelsea Mitchell are calling on the presiding judge to recuse himself after he forbid lawyers from referring to the transgender athletes involved in the case as “males.”
“Referring to these individuals as ‘transgender females’ is consistent with science, common practice and perhaps human decency,” said District Judge Robert Chatigny during an April 16 hearing. “To refer to them as ‘males,’ period, is not accurate.
“This isn’t a case involving males who have decided that they want to run in girls’ events,” he added. “This is a case about girls who say that transgender girls should not be allowed to run in girls’ events. So going forward, we will not refer to the proposed intervenors as ‘males’; understood?”
Roger Brooks, the lead attorney for ADF, responded by pointing out that the biology of transgender athletes seeking to compete in the women’s division is relevant to the case.
“The entire focus of the case is the fact that the [Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s] policy allows individuals who are physiologically, genetically male to compete in girls’ athletics,” Brooks explained. “ … The point of this case is physiology of bodies driven by chromosomes and the documented athletic advantage that comes from a male body, male hormones, and male puberty in particular.
“So, Your Honor, I do have a concern that I am not adequately representing my client and I’m not accurately representing their position in this case as it has to be argued before Your Honor and all the way up if I refer to these individuals as ‘female,’ because … when we’re talking about physiology, that’s not accurate,” Brooks told the judge.
In the motion for recusal, filed May 8, ADF attorneys argued that the judge’s “statements were unjustified and inconsistent with the appearance of impartiality.”
“The Court’s Order and comments during the hearing would leave an impartial observer gravely concerned that the Court has prejudged the matter, rejected core aspects of the plaintiffs’ case before hearing the evidence and legal arguments, and assumed the role of advocate for the defendants,” the motion reads.
In March, Attorney General William Barr signed a statement of interest on behalf of the female athletes.
“The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has adopted a policy that requires biological males to compete against biological females—despite the real physiological differences between the sexes—if the male is a transgender individual who publicly identifies with the female gender,” wrote Barr and other Department of Justice officials. “CIAC claims that ‘federal law’ requires this state of affairs. … They are incorrect.
“In [allowing biological males to compete against biological females], CIAC deprives … women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”
“It’s just really frustrating and heartbreaking, because we all train extremely hard to shave off just fractions of a second off of our time,” Soule told the Wall Street Journal. “And these athletes can do half the amount of work that we do, and it doesn’t matter. We have no chance of winning.”
Above: High school athletes Alanna Smith (left), Chelsea Mitchell (center) and Selina Soule (right) stand outside the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, following the announcement of their federal lawsuit on Feb. 12, 2020.
Photo: Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom