Former high school track athlete Chelsea Mitchell said that competing against trans athletes was “devastating” to her confidence and opportunities, and she pledged to continue her legal battle to ban biological males from girls’ sports.
Mitchell, the “fastest girl in Connecticut,” wrote an op-ed in USA Today on Sunday explaining why she and three other athletes sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) last year over the state’s decision to allow trans athletes to compete based on gender identity instead of biology.
Mitchell competed against biologically male athletes for most of her high school career and said that continuous losses to those trans athletes was demoralizing to her and other girls in the sport.
“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 male 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 added.
Mitchell and fellow female high school athletes Alanna Smith, Selina Soule, Ashley Nicoletti sued CIAC in February 2020 for allowing two biological males, transgender students Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, to compete in girls track and field competitions. A federal district judge dismissed the lawsuit in April, ruling that the question was moot since Yearwood and Miller had graduated and were no longer competing in high school sports.
Mitchell intends to appeal the judge’s decision, however. While they competed, Yearwood and Miller dominated Connecticut high school girls track. As Mitchell writes:
The CIAC allows biological males to compete in girls’ and women’s sports. As a result, two males began racing in girls’ track in 2017. 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.
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.
The repeated losses to biologically male athletes chip “away at women’s confidence and our belief in our own abilities,” Mitchell continued. She went on to point out that the trans athletes may have cost female athletes opportunities to play their sport at the next level, as well.
“[CIAC’s policy on transgender athletes] robs girls of the chance to race in front of college scouts who show up for elite meets, and to compete for the scholarships and opportunities that come with college recruitment,” Mitchell said. “I’ll never know how my own college recruitment was impacted by losing those four state championship titles to a male. When colleges looked at my record, they didn’t see the fastest girl in Connecticut. They saw a second- or third-place runner.”
Mitchell ended the op-ed promising to appeal the court’s decision and continue her fight to protect the integrity of high school girls’ sports.
“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,” Mitchell said.