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On Saturday, attorneys representing three female high school track athletes legally moved to call on the judge overseeing their case, Soule et al v. Connecticut Association of Schools et al., to recuse himself after he chastised and forbade the attorneys from describing biologically male transgender athletes as male.
As highlighted by The Daily Wire in February, student-athletes Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) for permitting biological boys to compete in events and win awards that would otherwise have gone to girls.
A conference call transcript obtained by The Daily Wire from April 16 included District Judge Robert Chatigny scolding ADF attorneys for describing biologically male trans athletes as male.
“Let me raise a point that undoubtedly will cause some consternation for you, Mr. (Roger) Brooks (lead ADF attorney representing the Plaintiffs), and your colleagues, but I exercise my prerogative as the presiding judge in this instance and I hope you will forgive me,” Judge Chatigny started.
“I don’t think we should be referring to the proposed intervenors as ‘male athletes.’ I understand that you prefer to use those words, but they’re very provocative, and I think needlessly so,” he argued. “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.”
Then, the judge ordered, “So going forward, we will not refer to the proposed intervenors as ‘males’; understood?”
Mr. Brooks was not allowed to respond to the judge until he told him he “understood” what he was saying.
“The entire focus of the case has to do with the fact that male bodies have a physiological advantage over female bodies that gives them an unfair advantage to competition,” Brooks explained. “The entire focus of the case is the fact that the CIAC policy allows individuals who are physiologically, genetically male to compete in girls’ athletics.”
The lead attorney reiterated that their team was “happy” to use the trans athletes’ names rather than refer to them as female, noting that their “names are not the point to the case,” nor is “gender identity.” “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,” he said.
But Judge Chatigny made clear ADF must refer to the athletes as “transgender females,” which he argued is “more accurate terminology” and “consistent with science” and “human decency.”
“What I’m saying is you must refer to them as ‘transgender females’ rather than as ‘males.'” he said. “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; and, for me, civility is a very important value, especially in litigation.”
Judge Chatigny then argued that ADF might have to “take an application to the Court of Appeals” if they won’t comply with his order, since, he said, he doesn’t want to “bully” them into his order, but he also doesn’t want ADF “bullying anybody else,” referring to the transgender athletes. (Brooks later reiterated during the call that they’ve never accused any of the transgender athletes of wrongdoing of any kind, only following the implemented policy, which ADF objects to.)
“So if you feel strongly that you and your clients have a right to refer to these individuals as ‘males’ and that you therefore do not want to comply with my order, then that’s unfortunate,” he said. “But I’ll give you some time to think about it and you can let me know if it’s a problem. If it is, gosh, maybe we’ll need to do something. I don’t want to bully you, but at the same time, I don’t want you to be bullying anybody else. Maybe you might need to take an application to the Court of Appeals. I don’t know. But I certainly don’t want to put civility at risk in this case.”
Brooks told the judge their team was unsure they could “comply” with the order, and asked if they could use “transgender athlete” instead of “transgender female,” to which the judge granted.
On Saturday, ADF attorneys filed a motion arguing that Judge Chatigyny’s order is “legally unprecedented” and calling for his recusal, National Review reported Monday.
“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 reportedly 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.”
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