The Biden administration has moved to withdraw federal support for a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut seeking to prohibit it from letting transgender athletes compete in girls’ sports at the high school level, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The Justice Department’s withdrawal came ahead of a Friday hearing in the case over the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The families of three high school girls sued Connecticut officials in 2020, arguing that allowing transgender athletes to compete in girls’ sports forced athletes “to compete against boys.”
“Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities,” an attorney for the plaintiffs, Christiana Holcomb, said last year. “Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition.”
Former Attorney General William Barr agreed, arguing in court documents at the time that the state’s current policy runs afoul of Title IX, which guarantees girls equal access to sports and other school activities.
“Under [the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s] interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males — namely, those who publicly identify as female — compete against biological females,” Barr’s filing read. “In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”
In a filing this week, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham wrote that the Justice Department had “reconsidered the matter,” according to the AP.
The news was celebrated by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D), who told the AP, “Transgender girls are girls and every woman and girl deserves protection against discrimination. Period.”
President Biden has signaled that he will oversee a reversal of the Trump administration’s general policy stance towards transgender Americans’ rights. In late January, days after taking office, he issued an executive order repealing his predecessor’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the armed forces.
“What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform and essentially restoring the situation … where transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military,” Biden said at the time.