Guest post: Far from being deprived of a chance

Originally a comment by Holms at Miscellany Room.

Connecticut rule allowing transgender athletes in girls’ school sports upheld

The usual lie is packaged in the article heading – the issue is male athletes in girls’ sports. Par for the course.

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that challenged a Connecticut policy allowing transgender students to compete in girls’ high school sports.

The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by four cisgender female students that the policy deprived them of wins and athletic opportunities by requiring them to compete with two transgender sprinters.

They had sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which oversees scholastic sports in Connecticut, saying its policy violated Title IX, a law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.

I’ll take correction from a lawyer, but the argument that a right has been breached seems strange to me. As we’ve said in response to Veronica Ivy’s claim ‘access to sports is a right’, no, at least not as an individually stated thing. This seems to me more like a breach of promise undertaken by the athletics association of that (and other) states, as they fail to provide a fair competition despite claiming so.

I suspect this different framing makes the burden on the moving party lighter, as breach of rights often requires stringent judicial tests.

I also take issue with the reasoning supplied in the verdict:

But U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, writing for a three-judge panel, said that far from being deprived of a “chance to be champions,” the four plaintiffs all regularly competed in state track championships and on numerous occasions came in first.

This is an argument with diminishing returns. It is only true so long as there are other competitions in which female participants can find a fair field, meaning the argument cannot be applied to every competition available – once the last competition succumbs, the premise of the argument – that there are other avenues available to women – is no longer true. And if an argument cannot be applied generally, then it seems it is not generally valid but relies on externalities to mitigate the impact its own successes.

6 Responses to “Guest post: Far from being deprived of a chance”