Victory! On December 16, 2022, the Second Circuit upheld the dismissal of plaintiffs’ challenge to CIAC’s policy allowing transgender students to participate in gender specific sports consistent with their gender identity. The court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they failed to prove that cisgender girls were harmed in any way by the participation of transgender athletes.
On October 14, 2021, the National Women’s Law Center, along with our law firm partner Hogan Lovells LLP and 34 additional organizations committed to gender justice, submitted an amicus brief to the Second Circuit in Soule v. CIAC in support of trans-inclusive student athletic policies in schools in Connecticut. The important Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) policy allows K-12 athletes to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity. Inclusive policies like CIAC’s are vital for protecting the safety and wellbeing of transgender young people, and for ensuring that all women and girls can access the well-documented benefits of playing sports.
In our brief, we refute the inaccurate and dangerous myths and stereotypes that are being used to challenge the CIAC policy in this lawsuit. Despite the arguments of the opponents of trans-inclusive sports policies to attempt to justify their discrimination, the evidence does not support a conclusion that including transgender girls on a sports team harms other women and girls. Research does confirm, however, that exclusion from female athletics does cause real harm to transgender women and girls, who already face a heightened risk of discrimination and harassment, by perpetuating untrue stereotypes regarding athleticism and gender. Exclusion also deprives transgender women and girls of the well-documented benefits of playing sports, such as improved physical and psychological well-being, improved educational prospects, and the opportunity to be part of a supportive community. As we explain in our brief, depriving students of their opportunity to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity is unlawful sex discrimination under Title IX.