The Alliance Defending Freedom held a news conference on the steps of the capitol building in Hartford, Conn. Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, announcing a federal lawsuit against the Connecticut Association of Schools. | Dawn Ennis
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit in federal court against the Connecticut Association of Schools over its trans-inclusive policy toward student athletes.
Holding up signs calling for “Fair Play” and to “Protect Women’s Sports,” a group of smiling moms, dads and grandparents joined three high school girls on the steps of Connecticut’s capitol Wednesday. They beamed with confidence and determination as they braced against a wintry wind and 40-degree temperatures, to announce to the gathered news media that they have accepted the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom. It’s an out of state hate group of religious zealots and lawyers who oppose LGBT rights, in hopes of legalizing discrimination against transgender girls.
The ADF’s goal is to stop two trans girls of color — who they repeatedly misgendered by incorrectly labeling them as “males,” “boys” and “biological males” — from competing against girls who are not transgender. The correct term for these girls is “cis,” or “cisgender,” meaning “not transgender.”
The ADF’s weapon in this fight is a new federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Connecticut Association of Schools, which has a longstanding policy through the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference that is transgender-inclusive.
Among the smiling, almost all-white, faces, nobody’s was brighter than Christiana Holcomb, whose job as legal counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom is given just as much significance, according to her bio, as her role as a key member of the Center for Christian Ministries.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said Holcomb. “Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition. And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics. Connecticut’s policy violates that law and reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women.”
The ACLU responded Wednesday afternoon to the ADF lawsuit and legislative attacks in 15 states across the nation, many of which target trans student athletes by attempting to force them to submit to a check of their chromosomes and reproductive internal and external organs.
“There’s no basis in federal law for such an intrusive policy,” said attorney Chase Strangio of the ACLU, who just happens to be a transgender man, during a phone briefing with reporters.
The federal lawsuit, he said, “misgenders the two transgender runners of color named in the lawsuit,” Connecticut high school seniors Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, and “makes claims not based on science or law but ideological positions designed to push transgender students out of athletics and their schools.”
Strangio called the lawsuit a “direct assault on the ability of transgender youth to survive and thrive,” based on what researchers have concluded to be alarming numbers of suicide ideation among trans youth.
“In high school, when so many young people are trying to find their place in the world, sports can save their lives. I know it saved mine,” said Team USA’s Chris Mosier, a trans man who is a duathlete, triathlete and race walker.
Strangio said the ACLU seeks to intervene in the lawsuit. He challenged arguments by ADF that trans girls have a physical advantage over cisgender girls, and told Outsports that to refer to trans girls as “biological males” is nothing short of a tactic designed to discriminate.
“They may have been assigned male at birth, but there is nothing about them that is male, and they are participating on girls teams like other girls,” Strangio said. “I think it is a term that had been deliberately used to cast these young women as less than their peers for the purpose of excluding them and discriminating against them.”
“I spoke with Terry [Miller] just recently and [about] the heartbreak of having your life’s work diminished in this way. When you’re a young person and you get up every morning to work hard and you are just fighting alongside your peers, and then to be undermined in the very core of your identity has lasting consequences. And so I know that the plaintiffs in this action cast themselves as a victim. But the reality is that Title IX prohibits discrimination because of sex, and that includes discrimination against girls who are transgender.”