The judge in the case of a trio of female high school track and field athletes wanting a ban on biological males competing against them said attorneys for the female athletes may not refer to the biological male runners as "males," according to National Review.
In response the attorneys for the female athletes filed a motion Saturday calling for the judge to recuse himself, the outlet said.
What are the details?
Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell filed a federal lawsuit in February challenging the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's policy of letting biological males compete in girls' sports.
But during an April 16 conference call, District Judge Robert Chatigny wrist-slapped Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys for referring to the male athletes who want to compete against females as "males," National Review said.
Here's some of what Chatigny said, according to the outlet:
What I'm saying is you must refer to them as "transgender females" rather than as "males." Again, that's the more accurate terminology, and I think that it fully protects your client's legitimate interests. Referring to these individuals as "transgender females" is consistent with science, common practice and perhaps human decency. To refer to them as "males," period, is not accurate, certainly not as accurate, and I think it's needlessly provocative. I don't think that you surrender any legitimate interest or position if you refer to them as transgender females. That is what the case is about. This isn't a case involving males who have decided that they want to run in girls' events. 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, said the male athletes' biology — since they want to compete with biological females — is relevant to the case, that he should be allowed to use the term, and that he was "not sure [he] could comply" with the prohibition against the use of "males," National Review said.
But when Brooks asked Chatigny if he could simply use "transgender" rather than "transgender females," the judge granted the request, the outlet added.
As for the motion to have the judge recuse himself, ADF attorneys argued that Chatigny's order is "legally unprecedented" and disrupts the appearance of impartiality, National Review said.
"A disinterested observer would reasonably believe that the Court's order and comments have destroyed the appearance of impartiality in this proceeding. That requires recusal," the motion, which the outlet also obtained, says. "To be sure, the public debate over gender identity and sports is a heated and emotional one. This only increases the urgency that court preserve their role as the singular place in society where all can be heard and present facts before an impartial tribunal."
What's the background?
The American Civil Liberties Union is representing Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood — the biological male sprinters who identify as females and who have dominated girls' track in Connecticut — in the case and told the Associated Press it's troubling that the U.S. government is entering the fray to "make clear that it does not believe girls who are trans enjoy protections under federal law."
But ADF argues that as a result of the CIAC policy "two males were permitted to compete in girls' athletic competitions beginning in the 2017 track season. Between them, they have taken 15 women's state championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different Connecticut girls) and have taken more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions from female track athletes in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone."
Mitchell would have won the 2019 state championship in the girls' 55-meter indoor track competition, "but because two males took first and second place, she was denied the gold medal," the legal firm said.
Miller won that race with a state record time of 6.95 seconds, the Associated Press reported. Yearwood took second place with a time of 7.01 seconds, and the third-place sprinter — Mitchell — hit the tape at a distant 7.23 seconds.
Soule finished eighth in the 55-meter sprint — and missed qualifying for the New England regionals by two spots, the outlet said. She told the AP had Miller and Yearwood not run, she would've been in the regional race to show her abilities to more college coaches.
"We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it's demoralizing," Soule told the AP in 2019. "I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair."
Title IX High School Athletic Controversy | The Today Show, NBC News youtu.be
As for Smith, she won the 400-meter dash at last June's New England Regional Championships — and no biological males competed in the event, ADF said. But when she lined up for the 200-meter dash, a biological male ran against her and won; Smith came in third.
"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," ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said. "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 spring track season is on hold in Connecticut because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but conference officials have put off a decision on whether to cancel it, according to the AP.