Female Athletes Denied Chance to Testify to Senate Panel About Equality Act

March 17, 2021 Updated: March 18, 2021

Three present and former Connecticut high school biological female athletes were barred from testifying on March 17 before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act that recently passed the House of Representatives. The Equality Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Christiana Holcomb, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, providing legal counsel for the women, told The Epoch Times it was the majority Democrats who prevented the athletes from testifying.

“It is disgraceful that Democrats refused to hear from Selina, Chelsea, and Alanna on the harms that they face from a law like the Equality Act. Our clients have lost out on state championships, podium spots, and opportunities to advance in competition because they were forced to compete against biological males,” Holcomb said.

Democrats and Republicans blamed each other.

When asked by The Epoch Times if the majority side refused to allow the women to testify, a spokesman for the Democrats, who asked not to be named, said: “No, they were not barred by the majority. The minority was able to call two witnesses, and they chose the witnesses that testified today.”

Republican committee spokesman Taylor Foy told The Epoch Times that the original negotiation between the committee majority and minority on witnesses sought what is known as a “consensus hearing,” in which both sides get three witnesses and a say on the other side’s selections.

When the consensus hearing talks broke down over Democratic objections to the proposed Republican witnesses, the structure reverted to a traditional format in which the minority was only able to provide two witnesses.

That forced the Republicans to use witnesses who could address the broad spectrum of issues presented by the Equality Act rather than those addressing only specific issues such as questions about women’s athletics, Foy said.

The committee hearing was called to consider a Senate version of the House-passed Equality Act, which redefines sex as a flexible and chosen identity rather than fixed biological characteristics.

The state of Connecticut has used the former definition for several years, with a result that two biological males were able to compete in what were previously female-only track and field competitions.

“The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference began allowing boys who identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports. As a result, during all four years of high school, I was forced to compete against two biological boys identifying as girls,” Selina Soule said in her prepared testimony, which was provided to The Epoch Times.

“In that time, these two biological males won 15 women’s state championship titles in track and field, titles that were previously held by nine different girls. And in just three years, these biological males set 17 new individual meet records, records which we girls had no hope of breaking.”

Alanna Smith, who is a junior at Danbury High School, said in her testimony that she loves “training and competing. The thrill of competing against girls like myself who train hard is rewarding. I compete to be the best, to be the fastest, to be a champion on a level playing field.”

The problem, Smith said, is “it’s hard to ignore the physical differences between us and biological males when they are lined up with us in the starting blocks. Mentally we know the outcome before the race even starts. We train so hard to compete, and yet the biological males that compete against us rob us of titles, podium spots, and opportunities to advance because they have inherent physical advantages over us.”

“That biological unfairness doesn’t go away because of what someone believes about gender identity. All girls deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field, but we should not be sidelined in our own sports,” she said.

The third woman athlete who wanted to testify was Chelsea Mitchell, a former student at Canton High School in Connecticut.

“I lost four state championships because our state policy ignores the biological reality and physical advantages of males over females in sport,” she said in her written testimony.

“Four times I was the fastest female across the finish line, but I didn’t get the gold medal or the state title—the males in my race took that honor. Losing a state championship is hard, but losing one because the race isn’t fair is gut-wrenching,” Mitchell said.

“I have watched this happen over and over again on the track in Connecticut—so many girls have been impacted—missing out on their chance to advance in competition or take home a gold medal. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right.

“We need separate sports categories based on biological sex in order to fairly compete. This is what Title IX was intended to protect and preserve. If biological males are permitted to compete in female sports, there will no longer be female sports as we know it.”

The only student who testified for the Equality Act was 16-year-old Stella Keating from Washington state, who told the committee “my pronouns are she/her” and that she is transgender.

Keating said she fears attending college in a state that doesn’t provide equal protection to transgender individuals.

“Right now, I live in a state where I have equal protection under the law. And as a high-school sophomore, I’m starting to look at colleges. And all I can think about is this: less than half of the states in our country provide equal protection for me under the law,” she said.

“What happens if I want to attend college in a state that doesn’t protect me? Right now, I could be denied medical care or be evicted for simply being transgender in many states. How is that even right? How is that even American?”