A US state’s policy allowing men to compete in women’s events if they ‘identify’ as female is a violation of female athletes’ rights, the US Department of Education (DoE) has ruled.
The Department responded to a complaint filed by three teenage athletes last year against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CIAC) policy, which they said cost them top rankings and potential scholarships.
Its response stated that it will either withdraw funding from the Conference and the relevant school districts or refer the cases to the US Department of Justice.
The DoE said CIAC’s policy “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges”.
Two biological males currently hold 15 women’s state championship titles between them. In 2016 they were held by nine different girls.
Chelsea Mitchell, one of the girls who launched legal action against the policy in February, would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55-metre indoor track race if two males had not been placed first and second.
She said: “It feels like we are finally headed in the right direction, and that we will be able to get justice for the countless girls along with myself that have faced discrimination for years”.
Mitchell added: “It is liberating to know that my voice, my story, my loss, has been heard; that those championships I lost mean something.”
Earlier this year, the Governor of Idaho signed into law a Bill preventing men who identify as female from competing in women’s sports events.
The Fairness for Women in Sports Act celebrates the biological differences between men and women, which result in “categorically different strength, speed, and endurance”, and requires the sexes to compete separately.