(NewsNation Now) — Transgender athletes now have an ally in the White House as they seek to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports. However, state legislatures, Congress and the courts are also expected to have a say on the matter.
“I hope people realize how unfair the situation is and that I hope that more female athletes will stand up because eventually, female sports might not be a thing anymore if this keeps happening,” Alanna Smith said.
Smith is one of three high school athletes in Connecticut seeking to block transgender athletes from participating in girl sports, in a lawsuit that was backed by the Trump administration.
Smith and two other students represented by the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom argue that transgender female runners have an unfair physical advantage.
“It’s not about lifestyle. It’s strictly about sports. Like for example, I have a twin brother and he plays sports, but his sports don’t revolve around running as mine does. So, but he could still beat me in a race, even though he doesn’t train for running like I do,” Smith said.
President Joe Biden reversed course when he took office issuing an executive order specifically mentioning children and youth sports.
“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden said.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is seeking to join the lawsuit in Connecticut saying the complaint is “a dangerous distortion of both law and science in the service of excluding trans youth from public life.”
“I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent. I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in athletics just like my peers to excel, find community, and meaning in my life,” said transgender student-athlete Terry Miller.
Another student athlete shared similar sentiments.
“I have known two things for most of my life: I am a girl and I love to run,” Andraya Yearwood said.
The Connecticut case and another in Idaho could go a long way in determining whether transgender athletes are treated as the sex on their birth certificates or by how they identify.
Last year, bills to restrict transgender athletes’ participation to their gender assigned at birth were proposed in 19 states. Only Idaho’s bill became law. It too was supported by the Trump administration but blocked from implementation by a federal judge.
“Trans athletes have always been here. And I just feel like now that we have somebody that is behind our community and that also is an office, we are able to finally take the proper steps that we can in order to do the things that we love to do,” Mack Beggs said.
Beggs transitioned from female to male in high school; winning two state championships in co-ed wrestling, and has continued competitive wrestling in college.
“We just want to just do the sport that we love without any criticism,” Beggs said.
The Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for the “right of people to freely live out their faith.”
Smith and her attorney argue that allowing transgender athletes to compete robs other girls of trophies and scholarships.
The ACLU says the issue has never been about “protection,” but rather exclusion, and the idea that women and girls have an advantage because they are trans ignores the actual conditions of their lives.
The organization says 22% of trans youth are harassed so badly they had to leave school.
14 states allow transgender participation with certain conditions like hormone treatments or other proof of the athlete transitioning.
The decision may ultimately fall to Congress to clarify whether Title IV, the civil rights law that guarantees equal opportunities for women and girls in education, protects or bars the participation of transgender females in women’s sports.
A federal judge is scheduled for a hearing for February 26 on a request to dismiss the Connecticut lawsuit.