REAL STORIESTaking a stand to defend
female athletics

The Selina Soule Story

When Connecticut junior Selina Soule lost the opportunity to compete in the New England high school regionals for track and field, she knew she had to speak out. She missed qualifying by two spots—two spots that were claimed instead by two biological males competing in the women’s track meet.

Had those two biological boys not been allowed to compete, Selina would have placed sixth, qualifying her to run the 55-meter event in front of college coaches at the New England regionals. The biological male who won Selina’s race set a girls’ state indoor record of 6.95 seconds in the 55-meter dash and went on to win the New England titles in both the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter dash.

“It’s very frustrating and heartbreaking when us girls are at the start of the race and we already know that these athletes are going to come out and win no matter how hard you try,” Selina said. “They took away the spots of deserving girls, athletes … me being included.”

Connecticut high school runner Selina Soule is speaking out to challenge policies that allow biological males to compete in women’s athletics.
Connecticut junior runner Selina Soule lost her spot in the New England regional track meet because two individuals who identify as transgender competed in her event.

Is this the end for women’s athletics?

Women’s athletics have made great strides since 1972, when Title IX was passed. Since then, girls have been given many of the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

But now, in schools across our country, those opportunities are being stripped away from female athletes. These girls are losing their spots at high-level competitions. But it’s not because their schools don’t offer their particular sports. And it’s not because they’re not good enough or don’t work hard enough.

It’s because the spots of these female athletes are being taken by biological males who identify as female. And that means these female athletes, who have worked so hard and for so long on their dream, are losing opportunities to compete in front of college scouts. 

That’s exactly what happened to Selina. And that’s exactly why Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a complaint representing Selina and two other female athletes with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

We’re asking the Department to investigate illegal discrimination against the Connecticut athletes. Ever since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) adopted a policy that allows biological males who claim a female identity to compete in girls’ athletic events, boys have consistently deprived Soule and other female athletes of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.

Crying foul against unfairness

The complaint demonstrates that the CIAC’s new policy and others like it pose a concrete threat to Title IX gains. 

“Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn’t force these young women to be spectators in their own sports.”

As an athlete, it can be disappointing to narrowly miss a goal—to be one spot from medaling or a hundredth of a second off from a qualifying time.

But this was different. Selina had not simply been outrun by other girls. Both first and second place in her event were taken by two biological males. These two athletes identify as girls and have been allowed to compete as such.

Had they not been permitted to do so, Selina likely would have competed at the New England regional championships in front of college scouts.

In fact, one of the athletes who displaced Selina previously competed against other male athletes in the winter 2018 season and failed to advance in boys’ indoor track events. It wasn’t until that athlete began competing in girls’ events during the 2018 spring season that the dominance began. This biological male now holds more than 10 records within the state of Connecticut that once belonged to 10 different girls.

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Unless flawed new policies are overturned, female athletics could become completely dominated by biological males, robbing girls and women of countless opportunities.

“Selina and her fellow female athletes train countless hours to shave mere fractions of seconds off their race times,” said Holcomb. “They put in that effort in hope of the personal satisfaction of victory, and opportunity to participate in state and regional meets, or a chance at a college scholarship. But girls competing against boys know the outcome before the race even starts: They can’t win. Boys will always have physical advantages over girls; that’s the reason we have women’s sports.”

While students who experience confusion about their gender need compassionate support, there are many ways to offer that without compromising fair competition.

Threats to women’s athletics across the country

The fact is that Title IX was designed to ensure that women would receive equal opportunities in education and athletics. But now, biological males are being allowed to compete against girls for scholarship opportunities—and they’re winning. Connecticut isn’t the only place where this is happening.

A male high school sprinter qualified for the girls’ finals at the Alaska state track championships.
A male college runner won three titles in the Northeast-10 Championships for women’s track and received the Most Outstanding Track Athlete award.
A male softball player took one of the 15 spots on his California high school girls’ varsity softball team.

That’s not progress. That’s just plain unfair.

Challenging these unjust policies takes great courage

Still, many female athletes have been hesitant to speak out. And it’s no wonder why.

Those who dare to question whether biological males should be allowed to compete against females are ridiculed and bullied. Transgender activists lashed out against tennis legend Martina Navratilova when she wrote that a biological man competing as a woman is “cheating.”

Likewise, when Selina and other female competitors have voiced their criticism, they have been portrayed as sore losers.

“Everyone is afraid of retaliation from the media, from the kids around their school, from other athletes, coaches, schools, administrators,” said Selina. “They don’t want to drag attention to themselves, and they don’t want to be seen as a target for potential bullying and threats.”

Since when does speaking the truth make you a sore loser? It is a physiological fact that men and women are built differently. Men have more muscle mass, larger hearts, and a higher bone density—making them physically stronger than women.

And, as Navratilova pointed out, “Simply reducing hormone levels—the prescription most sports have adopted—does not solve the problem. A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a created number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood. Training increases the discrepancy.”

Did you catch that? No amount of training can change the fact that males have a physiological advantage over females in some sports.

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing female athletes to compete against boys is grossly unfair and destroys their athletic opportunities.”

—ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb

That’s why we have separate men’s and women’s sports. But somehow, the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurry. If we do nothing, women and girls will soon be forced to become spectators in their own sports.  

With your help, Alliance Defending Freedom is determined to keep fighting this injustice by challenging these flawed policies being pushed by school authorities and bureaucrats.

Your gift today will make a vital difference

Alliance Defending Freedom has established a strong record of success standing against unelected authorities and bureaucrats who attempt to rewrite laws and violate the freedom of Americans. But your help is critically needed now. Because, for Selina Soule and many others, the fight is just beginning.

God has shown us time and time again that when we stand together, we can be victorious. But protecting the privacy and safety of Americans isn’t “someone else’s fight.” It’s your fight. It’s our fight.

Please give generously today to protect Selina Soule and others like her.

About Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

ADF was launched in 1994 by 35 ministry leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Bill Bright, and Larry Burkett.

With God’s favor and blessing, ADF has grown from the prayers of those godly leaders to become a major force in the legal battle for religious freedom, winning nearly 80% of our cases, including nine victories at the Supreme Court of the United States since 2011.