Calls For Recusal After Judge Orders Attorneys To Refer To Trans Athletes As ‘Female’
District Court judge Robert Chatigny has ordered attorneys representing three high school girls that they must refer to the trans athletes on the other side of the case as “female,” an action which has alarmed many as demonstrative of partiality.
The case in question is a suit filed in February 2020 by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of three female high school athletes: Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell; against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC). The CIAC policy allows individuals to compete in sports on the basis of their gender identity, meaning male-to-female transgender athletes compete against biological women. Connecticut is one of 17 states which adheres so extremely to the transgender ideology.
Before the suit, the ADF also filed a complaint with the Department of Education in June 2019. The situation also led to a petition in support of the students sponsored by LifeSiteNews which currently has almost 190,000 signatures.
National Review has summarized the situation that led to the suit as follows:
“The case centers on the participation of two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have combined to win 15 girls indoor and outdoor championship events since 2017. The year prior to Miller and Yearwood’s participation, those titles were held by ten different girls. The three plaintiffs have competed directly against Miller and Yearwood and have lost to them in nearly every case.”
All three girls have spoken out emotionally about the personal impact the situation has had on them and others, saying that they “feel defeated before a race begins,” and are just asking for “a fair chance” for “every young woman who dreams of competing, of having her chance, of being rewarded for doing her very best.”
Selina Soule described her situation at a press conference, saying:
“Like the other track athletes standing here today, I face an impossible situation… Now, when we line up in front of our blockers and the starter calls us to get into position, we all know how the race will end. We can’t win. We’ve lived it. We’ve watched it happen… We’ve missed out on medals, on opportunities to compete. But when we’ve asked questions, we’ve been told we’re allowed to compete, but we shouldn’t expect to win.”
In a later interview, she added that “it’s just really frustrating and heartbreaking, because we all train extremely hard to shave off just fractions of a second off of our time. And these athletes can do half the amount of work that we do, and it doesn’t matter. We have no chance of winning.”
The basis of the legal case is the allegation by the plaintiffs that the CIAC’s policy is in violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, because it disadvantages the biologically female athletes.
However, according to a conference call transcript obtained by National Review, judge Robert Chatigny recently forbade the ADF’s attorneys from referring to Miller and Yearwood as “male,” and ordered the ADF to call them “female,” even though that question lies at the heart of the case. Chatigny’s statement as per the transcript:
“What I’m saying is you must refer to them as “transgender females” rather than as “males.” Again, that’s the more accurate terminology, and I think that it fully protects your client’s legitimate interests. Referring to these individuals as “transgender females” is consistent with science, common practice and perhaps human decency. To refer to them as “males,” period, is not accurate, certainly not as accurate, and I think it’s needlessly provocative. I don’t think that you surrender any legitimate interest or position if you refer to them as transgender females. That is what the case is about. This isn’t a case involving males who have decided that they want to run in girls’ events. This is a case about girls who say that transgender girls should not be allowed to run in girls’ events. So going forward, we will not refer to the proposed intervenors as “males”; understood?”
The ADF’s lead attorney, Robert Brooks, responded to this by calling out the absurdity of the order in the context of the case:
“The entire focus of the case is the fact that the CIAC policy allows individuals who are physiologically, genetically male to compete in girls’ athletics. But if I use the term “females” to describe those individuals — and we’ve said in our opening brief, we’re happy to use their preferred names, because names are not the point to the case. Gender identity is not the point of this case. The point of this case is physiology of bodies driven by chromosomes and the documented athletic advantage that comes from a male body, male hormones, and male puberty in particular. So, Your Honor, I do have a concern that I am not adequately representing my client and I’m not accurately representing their position in this case as it has to be argued before Your Honor and all the way up if I refer to these individuals as “female,” because that’s simply, when we’re talking about physiology, that’s not accurate, at least in the belief of my clients.”
Later on in the conversation, Chatigny responded:
“So if you feel strongly that you and your clients have a right to refer to these individuals as “males” and that you therefore do not want to comply with my order, then that’s unfortunate. But I’ll give you some time to think about it and you can let me know if it’s a problem. If it is, gosh, maybe we’ll need to do something. I don’t want to bully you, but at the same time, I don’t want you to be bullying anybody else. Maybe you might need to take an application to the Court of Appeals. I don’t know. But I certainly don’t want to put civility at risk in this case.”
In response, on Saturday the ADF’s legal team filed a motion for Chatigny to recuse himself, calling his order “legally unprecedented” and stating that “a disinterested observer would reasonably believe that the Court’s order and comments have destroyed the appearance of impartiality.”
Under AG Bill Bar, the Trump Justice Department has taken an interest in the case, filing a statement of interest this March and stating that the CIAC is in violation of Title IX, as well as referring to the transgender athletes as “biologically male.”
Stories like this will only become increasingly common if conservatives do not effectively push back. Perhaps between the ADF’s able legal team and the Trump administration’s support, this will be one case that stems the tide.