By Daniel Wiessner
(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit by female former high school track team members challenging a Connecticut policy that allows transgender girls to compete on girls’ teams.
The full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the four women could pursue claims that the policy deprived them of wins and athletic opportunities by requiring them to compete with two transgender sprinters.
The court did not review the merits of those claims, but only whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring them.
“Plaintiffs plausibly allege that directing Defendants to alter public athletic records … could at least provide Plaintiffs with the publicly recognized titles and placements they would have received if (transgender athletes) had not competed,” Circuit Judge Alison Nathan wrote for the court.
The ruling reviving the 2020 lawsuit comes amid a push by Republican-led states to bar transgender athletes from competing on teams or sports that align with their gender identities. The Biden administration has proposed prohibiting schools from enacting outright bans on transgender athletes joining teams.
Lawyers for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), the governing body for high school sports in the state, and several school districts named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the plaintiffs, praised the ruling as an important victory for female athletes around the country.
The plaintiffs claim that by requiring them to compete against transgender girls, CIAC’s 2013 policy violated a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics. They are seeking to strike down the policy and alter race records to remove transgender competitors.
A three-judge 2nd Circuit panel last year agreed with a federal judge that the plaintiffs had not shown they were deprived of opportunities because all of them regularly competed in state track championships and won some of them. The full court said it would reconsider the case in February.