NEW YORK – On behalf of Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, two transgender young women, the ACLU and the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut defended the transgender youth participation policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City in Soule et al v. CT Association of Schools et al, the nation’s first federal court case challenging such a policy.
“The plaintiffs’ argument is filled with hypotheticals about a dystopia where cisgender girls disappear from the podium, but the court must rely on facts,” said Joshua Block, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The facts are that these plaintiffs repeatedly outperformed Andraya and Terry, and won an impressive collection of first place trophies in the process. There is enough room on the victory podium for transgender girls too. Under Title IX, all girls, including transgender girls, should be able to participate fully and equally in athletics, in accordance with who they are.”
“Connecticut’s laws preventing discrimination against trans youth in school and sports are consistent with federal law. For years now, Andraya and Terry have carried more on their shoulders, as two Black trans youth, than most adults face in a lifetime. We hope the court will uphold the lower court’s decision so our clients may move forward with their lives, and so all transgender students in Connecticut can rest assured that their rights, humanity, and ability to be fully part of their school communities is not up for debate,” said Elana Bildner, ACLU Foundation of Connecticut senior staff attorney.
Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood are transgender young women who successfully competed in track and field events while in high school in Connecticut. During their senior year, cisgender girls represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom–an organization that takes credit for a record surge in anti-transgender bills introduced by state legislators in recent years–filed a lawsuit arguing that the presence of transgender girls on girls’ sports teams violated Title IX. The Connecticut district court dismissed the case last year, but the plaintiffs immediately appealed.
With the support of over 150 professional female athletes and associations–including Jasmine Thomas, Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, Layshia Clarendon, the Women’s National Basketball Player’s Association, and the Women’s Sports Foundation, ACLU Staff Attorney Joshua Block argued today that:
- Title IX allows schools to adopt inclusive policies to provide equal athletic opportunities for all girls and women–including girls and women who are transgender.
- Although the plaintiffs have argued that they “can’t win” when competing against Andraya and Terry, their athletic records show that the cisgender plaintiffs repeatedly outperformed Andraya and Terry, winning many first-place trophies and championships in the process and going on to win several athletic scholarships.
- To the extent that courts have considered the topic of transgender athletes, they have held that Title IX prohibits schools from adopting discriminatory bans like the ones advocated by the plaintiffs and Alliance Defending Freedom.
For more information about Soule et al v CT Association of Schools et al, including copies of friend of the court briefs submitted by more than 150 professional women athletes and associations.