Judge Bars Lawyers from Calling Trans Athletes ‘Male,’ Attorneys Seek Recusal

Kassi Jackson / Hartford Courant/TNS via Getty Images

The attorneys representing three female high school track and field athletes who are challenging rules allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports said the judge in the case should recuse himself after he said transgender athletes could not be referred to as “males.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed suit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference on behalf of Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell. The suit claims that allowing students to compete based on their “gender identity” and not biological sex puts women at a disadvantage and violates Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the “basis of sex.”

The National Review reported on the latest on the case:

During an April 16 conference call, District Judge Robert Chatigny chastised the ADF attorneys for referring to the male athletes seeking to compete in the women’s division as “males,” according to a transcript of the call obtained by National Review:

What I’m saying is you must refer to them as “transgender females” rather than as “males.” Again, that’s the more accurate terminology, and I think that it fully protects your client’s legitimate interests. Referring to these individuals as “transgender females” is consistent with science, common practice and perhaps human decency. To refer to them as “males,” period, is not accurate, certainly not as accurate, and I think it’s needlessly provocative. I don’t think that you surrender any legitimate interest or position if you refer to them as transgender females. That is what the case is about. This isn’t a case involving males who have decided that they want to run in girls’ events. This is a case about girls who say that transgender girls should not be allowed to run in girls’ events. So going forward, we will not refer to the proposed intervenors as “males”; understood?

“Roger Brooks, the lead attorney for ADF, responded by pointing out that the biology of transgender athletes seeking to compete in the women’s division is relevant to the case and, as such, his duty provide a vigorous defense of his clients’ interests required him to use the term ‘males,” National Review reported.

Brooks said:

The entire focus of the case is the fact that the CIAC policy allows individuals who are physiologically, genetically male to compete in girls’ athletics. But if I use the term “females” to describe those individuals — and we’ve said in our opening brief, we’re happy to use their preferred names, because names are not the point to the case. Gender identity is not the point of this case. The point of this case is physiology of bodies driven by chromosomes and the documented athletic advantage that comes from a male body, male hormones, and male puberty in particular. So, Your Honor, I do have a concern that I am not adequately representing my client and I’m not accurately representing their position in this case as it has to be argued before Your Honor and all the way up if I refer to these individuals as “female,” because that’s simply, when we’re talking about physiology, that’s not accurate, at least in the belief of my clients.

Brooks told the judge he did not think he could comply with the request and asked if simply using the word transgender would be acceptable.

“So if you feel strongly that you and your clients have a right to refer to these individuals as “males” and that you therefore do not want to comply with my order, then that’s unfortunate,” Chatigny said. “But I’ll give you some time to think about it and you can let me know if it’s a problem. If it is, gosh, maybe we’ll need to do something. I don’t want to bully you, but at the same time, I don’t want you to be bullying anybody else.”

ADF filed a motion on Saturday seeking the judge’s recusal.

“A disinterested observer would reasonably believe that the Court’s order band comments have destroyed the appearance of impartiality in this proceeding. That requires recusal,” the motion, obtained by National Review, said. “To be sure, the public debate over gender identity and sports is a heated and emotional one. This only increases the urgency that court preserve their role as the singular place in society where all can be heard and present facts before an impartial tribunal.

“The case centers on the participation of two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have combined to win 15 girls indoor and outdoor championship events since 2017,” National Review reported. “The year prior to Miller and Yearwood’s participation, those titles were held by ten different girls.” 

“It’s just really frustrating and heartbreaking, because we 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,” Soule told the Wall Street Journal. “We have no chance of winning.”

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allows students to compete in a sports division of their choosing regardless of their biological sex.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.