Selina Soule, a prominent women’s rights activist who used to be a high school track athlete in Connecticut, praised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, during a press conference on Tuesday for signing a bill into law that aims to preserve fairness in girl’s sports by ensuring that girls do not have to compete against biological males.
Soule told her story about how she missed out on countless opportunities as a track athlete in Connecticut because she and other female athletes consistently lost to two biological males who competed against them.
A transcript and video of Soule’s remarks are featured below:
SELINA SOULE, FORMER HIGH SCHOOL TRACK ATHLETE: You may know my story, but if you don’t, I’d like to share how bad policy in my state of Connecticut has robbed me, my teammates, as well as every other female track athlete in my state the opportunity to compete on a fair and level playing field. I have been competing in track and field since my mom introduced it to me when I was a little girl. Track means everything to me. I would wake up every morning eager to get on the track, waiting to run waiting to jump. I love my sport. I’ve spent countless hours training to shave fractions of a second off of my time, so I could be the best because I race to win. But my chances of being first, of being the best, were shattered.
In 2017, Connecticut began allowing two male athletes who self-identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports. During all four years of high school I was forced to compete against them, even though they were bigger, stronger and faster than me because they were male. In just three years, these two athletes won 15 Women’s Championship titles, and they set 17 new individual meet records, records which we girls had no hope of breaking. I remember what it was like to line up for the race and get into my blocks already knowing the outcome long before the race started. Those two biological males would dominate the field leaving us girls to compete for third place and beyond. No matter how hard we trained and how hard we pushed ourselves, they beat us time and time again. We elite female athletes don’t give up a normal high school experience just from participation trophies, we race to win.
Sports have always had separate rules to ensure fairness. Everyone should have the chance to participate in sports, but they need to compete where it’s most fair. This isn’t about self expression. This is about our right, a woman’s right, to win. I have lost countless opportunities over the past few years. I lost opportunities to compete on World Class tracks and opportunities to win titles. During my junior year, I was denied the chance to compete at the regional New England championships. I missed advancing to the next level of competition in the 55-meter dash by just two spots, two spots that were taken by biological males. It was frustrating, heartbreaking, and demoralizing to be sidelined in my own sport. Female athletes deserve the same opportunity as boys to excel and chase our dreams. Allowing male athletes to compete and girl’s sports shatters those dreams and strips away opportunities that so many of us have spent years working to obtain. We must protect the integrity of women’s sports.
So I decided to take action. Three of my fellow female athletes tonight filed a lawsuit last year with the Alliance Defending Freedom against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference because girls and women deserve the chance to compete on a fair playing field. After reviewing the Fairness and Women’s Sports Act, all I can say on behalf of all female athletes is thank you, Governor.
As someone who was one of the first to start speaking against this injustice, it is very encouraging that my story has reached people across the country and that many have seen what’s happened in Connecticut and want to take the stand to protect female athletes in their state effort to protect women’s sports so no other young girl has to go through the same pain and heartbreak I had to endure my four years of high school. I am grateful to Florida lawmakers and especially Governor DeSantis for preserving fairness and women’s sports and allowing countless young girls and women the opportunity to succeed in the sport that they love. As a female athlete, I recognize the opportunities for higher competition are limited, including access to college recruitment, scholarship funds, equal access to facilities, coaches, training opportunities, and even opportunities to play professionally, even decades after Title Nine. This bill is about protecting the advances we’ve already made as women in this space and creating a fair opportunity to empower women to aspire and to achieve in the most fair way possible. I only wish the rest of the country would take these obvious steps to ensure fairness and equality for women and girls like me. once again. Thank you, Governor DeSantis.