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USA Today Removes ‘Hurtful Language’ from Female Athlete’s Op-Ed on Sports Fairness

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USA Today edited an op-ed after its publication and without consulting its author after determining that the author’s use of the word “male,” which she used to describe the transgender athletes she was forced to compete against in high school track, was “hurtful.”

In the original piece, former Connecticut high school runner Chelsea Mitchell recounts losing four state championship races to biological males, and refers to her competitors as “male.” USA Today editors changed “male” to “transgender” on Tuesday without her knowledge or consent, and posted an editor’s note apologizing for the original phrasing.

“This column has been updated to reflect USA TODAY’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used,” the editor’s note reads.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a legal advocacy organization representing Mitchell, has published the unaltered version on its website.

“That’s a devastating experience. It tells me that I’m not good enough; that my body isn’t good enough; and that no matter how hard I work, I am unlikely to succeed, because I’m a woman,” Mitchell wrote of her losses to male runners.

The track star and three of her fellow female athletes filed a lawsuit with ADF last year against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which currently allows transgender participants in women’s and girl’s sports.

Mitchell noted the number of awards won by these players in the last few years, referencing their “massive physical advantages” and “simply bigger and stronger” bodies.

A federal district court recently dismissed Mitchell’s case, Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, a ruling which she and her friends are appealing alongside ADF attorneys to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. She states that they were denied the right to fair competition that Title IX promises to girls and women.

“The court’s decision to do so tells women and girls that their feelings and opportunities don’t matter, and that they can’t expect anyone to stand up for their dignity and their rights,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell is suing the CIAC for damages, citing the uncounted scholarship and opportunities for college recruitment she may have never qualified for because of her record of losing four state championship titles to a biological male athlete.

As of February, at least 20 state legislatures have passed bills preventing transgender males from playing in women’s sports. Mitchell’s lawsuit update follows the Biden administration’s executive order that would force all federally funded entities to permit males to compete against females.

Biden also recently issued a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notice of enforcement that it will start pressuring states to cover gender transition surgeries and medical procedures in their Medicare programs in a new ‘non-discrimination’ rule that redefines sex.

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