Two female high school runners in Connecticut have come out against two transgender runners who have dominated the sport in their state.
Selina Soule, a senior from Broomfield, and Alanna Smith, a sophomore from Danbury, are some of the top sprinters in their regions. But they say they don’t stand a chance against athletes who were born male.
So, they’ve teamed up with Alliance Defending Freedom to push for transgender athletes to be barred from female sports. In a series of highly produced videos that the Christian legal group released last month, the girls argue that Connecticut’s trans-inclusive policy is hurting girls like them, and threatening the very notion of female sports.
Recalling the first time she ran against a transgender student her freshman year, Selena says: “I knew right then and there that some girls will be missing out on great opportunities to succeed, and that people could be completely eradicated from their own sports.”
While female athletes probably won’t be completely replaced any time soon, Alliance Defending Freedom and other women’s advocates have issued similarly dire warnings.
In May, Doraine Coleman, a former Swiss national champion in 800 meters and a law professor at Duke University published an essay in Quillette arguing that without distinguishing between male and female athletes, biological women would be unable to win at their own sports, which is the whole point of making them separate in the first place.
“Specifically, if it were decided that eligibility for the women’s category should be based on identity rather than gonadal sex—or if we adopted the theoretical proposition that because some males identify as females, some females have testes—it would be impossible to achieve parity of opportunity in this realm of society, and for sport to meet its associated goals,” she said.
For their part, transgender rights advocates have made the case that the critics exaggerate the potential impact of transgender athletes of female sports or that it doesn’t really matter — or simply dismissed their ideological opponents as bigots.
Selina Soule and Alanna Smith join Alliance Defending Freedom
As it turned out, Soule was one of the girls deprived of an opportunity. Last year, she missed the cut to qualify for the 55-meter event in the New England regionals by just two spots. Meanwhile, the two transgender track stars — Terry Miller of Bloomfield and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell High — were among the eight high schoolers who qualified.
Terry and Andraya, both juniors who identify as female, went on to dominate the competition, taking first and second place, respectively. Miller won with the third-fastest time in the United States.
Their success gained them national attention, including laudatory media profiles and some backlash.
Soule and her mother, Bianca Stanescu, were among those who protested at the time. Stanescu organized a petition calling for athletes to run in the division based on the sex they were assigned at birth, unless they had undergone hormone replacement therapy.
According to Transathlete.com, Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions. Seven states have restrictions on transgender athletes, and others have no clear policy.
Echoing Selina, Alanna says “So even before I get to the track, I already know that I’m not gonna get first place, or maybe even second place. And it’s really hard knowing that because I know that no matter how hard I work, I won’t be able to have the top spot.”
With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, Selina and Alanna have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which has agreed to investigate.