The Corner


Education Department Investigates Transgender Sports Policies

People protest Trump administration’s reported transgender proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female outside City Hall in New York City, October 24, 2018. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

On Wednesday, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into the claims of three female athletes who maintain that the state of Connecticut’s transgender policy — allowing male athletes to compete with girls if they declare a female gender identity — violates Title IX and constitutes illegal discrimination on the basis of sex.

Since enacted in 2017, the Connecticut state conference policy has enabled two young men to win 15 women’s championships, titles that were held by 10 young women the year before. State athletic conferences in 18 other states have similar policies.

Last month, I visited the named complainant, 16-year-old Selina Soule, and her mom at their home in Glastonbury. Soule showed me the track where she trains as well as her collection of medals and trophies. She said that sports mean the world to her — and to her mom, an immigrant from Romania, and her inspiration. As I detailed in the Wall Street Journal, Soule feels that allowing boys to compete against girls is “just really frustrating and heartbreaking” as the girls “all train extremely hard to shave off just fractions of a second off of our time. And these athletes can do half the amount of work that we do, and it doesn’t matter. We have no chance of winning.”

Soule also said: 

I have one close friend that is really affected by [the state’s policy] . . . It has honestly taken a toll on her emotionally and mentally, being beat by these boys, because she works her butt off and she tries so hard. And you can tell that she’s extremely upset because she would be the winner of [the majority of] these races if the two of them weren’t there. . . So, I know it’s taken a real toll on her, but for me I try to just focus, at least when I’m actually running my race, on running as best as I possibly can. Then I will deal with my emotions afterwards.

Though there is no set timeline for the Department of Education’s investigation, which could take from several months to several years, The Washington Blade documents leaked emails which indicate that the Department may be expediting the case.

Christiana Holcomb, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, the firm representing the young female athletes, told me by phone:

We’re very excited that the US Department of Education has decided to open an investigation into the Title IX complaint of the three young female athletes. And we’re optimistic that, ultimately, they will decide that the Connecticut interscholastic Athletic Conference has violated Title IX, and will ultimately restore fairness and a level playing field to women’s sports.

Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.

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