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    Tuesday, February 27, 2024

    Judicial neglect imperils women’s sports movement in CT

    Recent evidence suggests that not even our judiciary, long considered our last bastion of wisdom and prudence, are immune from the symptoms of the unenlightened.

    There is no other conclusion to draw from the recent decision of a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, which upheld a lower court judge's dismissal of a lawsuit challenging Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender girls to compete in girls’ high school sports.

    The appeals court rejected arguments by four cisgender (a person whose gender identity corresponds with that person's biological sex assigned at birth) runners who said they were unfairly forced to race against transgender athletes.

    The court’s reasoning, somewhere between naïve and erroneous, calls into question whether the three-judge panel had the bandwidth to apply the layered thinking necessary as it applies to unique circumstances of transgender athletes.

    The panel, according to published reports, said the four cisgender athletes lacked standing to sue — in part because their claims that they were deprived of wins, state titles and athletic scholarship opportunities were “speculative.”

    “All four Plaintiffs regularly competed at state track championships as high school athletes, where Plaintiffs had the opportunity to compete for state titles in different events,” the decision said. “And, on numerous occasions, Plaintiffs were indeed ‘champions,’ finishing first in various events, even sometimes when competing against (transgender athletes).”

    Translation: You had a chance to win other events. Now be good little dears and take one for the team here as we have neither the interest nor the fortitude to challenge the transgender movement.

    Attorney Roger Brooks, from the Alliance Defending Freedom, said Title IX guarantees girls “equal quality” of competition, during arguments before a federal judge last February in Connecticut. Brooks said the cisgender runners in question shouldn’t have to compete against people with “inherent physiological advantages,” adding that transgender sprinters improperly won 15 championship races between 2017 and 2020 and cost cisgender girls the opportunity to advance to other races 85 times.

    This all stemmed from whether two transgender female runners, recent high school graduates Terry Miller of Bloomfield and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, who won a combined 15 championship races, should have been allowed to compete against their cisgender peers.

    The lawsuit challenged the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s policy complying with a state law that requires all high school students be treated according to their gender identity. The lawsuit questions whether the transgender policy runs afoul of Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics.

    So I ask again: Why can't we consider a sports-centric law that acknowledges sports' unique challenges and accommodates the physical component for success that exists virtually nowhere else in society?

    Sex discrimination in education, health care, housing and financial credit have no place in this country. But we must — must — realize and accept that sports require a physical component to succeed that calls for different guidelines.

    Put it this way: Applying to a school or for health care, housing or financial credit requires no physical component to succeed. Sports require speed, strength and agility and do not fit under the same umbrella. And yet sports are routinely shoved into the same arguments about unfair treatment. Injustices get piled on for rhetorical usefulness, even though they're not applicable.

    The male born composition has inherent physical advantages, rare exceptions noted. But in the aggregate, there are physiologic differences between biological males and females. I don’t believe writing that makes me transphobic. We should respect a person’s pronoun of choice. But that doesn't mean we have to blindly agree with claims that are not supported by science.

    I support someone else’s desire to evolve into another gender. But that decision imperils the opportunity to compete in sports, unless the competition is part of a transgender division.

    A research institution from the northeast recently studied transgender men and women who had undergone hormone treatment for a year. The conclusion: “Despite the robust increases in muscle mass and strength in TM (transgender men), the TW (transgender women) were still stronger and had more muscle mass following 12 months of treatment. These findings add new knowledge that could be relevant when evaluating transwomen's eligibility to compete in the women's category of athletic competitions.”

    My guess is that the three-judge panel wanted to avoid the political ramifications of a different decision. Twelve Republican-led states have passed laws banning transgender women or girls in sports based on the premise it gives them an unfair competitive advantage.

    Ah, but this is why they wear the robes. They tell us that while we all have opinions, theirs, like umpires and referees, are the only opinions that count. But that adds to the responsibility that their opinions accommodate new evidence and changing circumstances.

    The judiciary swung the missed. Perhaps it’s on legislators — or journalists — now to enlighten. Once again: Sex discrimination in education, health care, housing and financial credit have no place in this country. But we must realize and accept that sports require a physical component to succeed that calls for different guidelines.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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