USA Today February 2020
I’m crouched at the starting line of the high school girls’ 55-meter indoor race. This should be one of the best days of my life. I’m running in the state championship, and I’m ranked the fastest high school female in the 55-meter dash in the state. I should be feeling confident. I should know that I have a strong shot at winning.
Instead, all I can think about is how all my training, everything I’ve done to maximize my performance, might not be enough, simply because there’s a transgender runner on the line with an enormous physical advantage.
I won that race, and I’m grateful. But time after time, I have lost. I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to transgender runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two transgender runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again.
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.
…And it’s not just happening to me. My friend and fellow plaintiff Selina Soule was bumped from qualifying for the state championship 55-meter final and an opportunity to qualify for the New England championship by a transgender runner in 2019. Meanwhile, Alanna Smith, an incredibly talented female athlete, was the second-place female runner in the 200-meter at the New England Regional Championships, but was dropped to third behind a transgender competitor.
It’s discouraging that the federal district court has decided that these experiences — these lost opportunities — simply don’t matter.
Chelsea Mitchell is an award-winning athlete from Canton High School in Connecticut. She is running track at the collegiate level.