Title IX 50th anniversary – in battle over transgender athletes in sports, teen girls pay biggest price

Title IX 50th anniversary – in battle over transgender athletes in sports, teen girls pay biggest price

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There are so many unfair things about what’s happening in women’s sports today. The unfair biological advantage that male athletes have when competing against female counterparts. The unfair destruction being done to women’s athletics. The loss of scholarships, of recruitment opportunities, of chances to compete at higher levels of sport. The unfair treatment by the media of girls and women who speak up against what’s happening.

But none of those injustices, in some ways, compares with what may be the most unfair aspect of the whole issue: the fact that we’re placing all the responsibility for resolving it on teenage girls.

Doug, Christy, and Chelsea Mitchell, taken at the NCCC Indoor Track Championship, New Haven, Conn. on Feb 1, 2020 (senior year). Chelsea's team won the conference championship, and she had three gold medals in the 55m, 300m, and long jump.

Doug, Christy, and Chelsea Mitchell, taken at the NCCC Indoor Track Championship, New Haven, Conn. on Feb 1, 2020 (senior year). Chelsea’s team won the conference championship, and she had three gold medals in the 55m, 300m, and long jump.

This is not a problem teen girls should have to resolve, especially since they aren’t the ones who created it. Young women have their own instinctive sense of right and wrong. They may not grasp all the political and psychological intricacies of the transgender politics, but “fair?” Fair, they understand.

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The adults created this increasingly convoluted mess, but they have no intention of taking responsibility for it, even as we approach the 50th anniversary of Title IX—a law designed to protect fair competition for women—on June 23. No, instead, they’re hiding behind the athletes out on the track and in the pools. And it’s working.

Chelsea Mitchell, age 14 (9th grade), at the Class S Connecticut State Championship on June 1, 2017.  

Chelsea Mitchell, age 14 (9th grade), at the Class S Connecticut State Championship on June 1, 2017.   (Christy Mitchell)

People who are angry at efforts to keep men out of women’s sports aren’t venting their fury at the coaches or schools or government officials. They’re venting it at the athletes—at people like my daughter.

When two male athletes began running against her in high school meets a few years ago, I waded into the bureaucratic red tape with everything I had. I wrote letters to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. 

Christy and Chelsea Mitchell, taken at CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) Championships, Harrisonburg, VA on May 1, 2021 (freshman year in college). Chelsea earned All-Conference for her second place finish in the long jump and set two school records (4x100m relay and long jump).

Christy and Chelsea Mitchell, taken at CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) Championships, Harrisonburg, VA on May 1, 2021 (freshman year in college). Chelsea earned All-Conference for her second place finish in the long jump and set two school records (4x100m relay and long jump).

I made appointments with the administrators at her school. I talked with the coach and athletic director. I stood in front of school boards. I made appointments with our congresswoman and our senator. I called our state’s civil rights office and talked to officials at the Department of Education.

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Some of them professed to be sympathetic, but none of them offered to do anything. One by one, they passed the buck, shrugged off the responsibility, and told me there was nothing they could do.

Chelsea Mitchell, age 16 (11th grade), at the Connecticut State Open Championship on June 3, 2019.  (Photo credit:  Christy Mitchell)

Chelsea Mitchell, age 16 (11th grade), at the Connecticut State Open Championship on June 3, 2019.  (Photo credit:  Christy Mitchell) (Christy Mitchell)

It was a school issue—but administrators said they were told to leave it to state athletic officials. It was a sports issue—but athletic officials said they were ordered to leave the matter to government authorities. It was a political issue—but our governor said the legislature would have to decide it…while legislators told me athletics groups would have to make the call.

Everybody wanted it to be somebody else’s problem.

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“Somebody else” turned out to be a lot of teenage girls.

I started keeping a list of all the girls on whom this mass indecision had an impact and how they were affected. Week after week, track meet by track meet, male athletes were outrunning them, pushed along by the political winds at their backs. Soon, the names of affected girls were running into the hundreds.

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Meanwhile, months drifted by. Track seasons came and went. My letters went unanswered, and my phone calls went unreturned. 

Girls were losing their best chance at scholarships, being ignored by recruiters, and being pushed off of platforms and out of the running for opportunities to participate at higher levels.

Christy and Chelsea Mitchell, taken at Indoor Track All-State Banquet, Plantsville, CT on March 5, 2020 (senior year). Received All-State honors in the 55m, 300m, and long jump.

Christy and Chelsea Mitchell, taken at Indoor Track All-State Banquet, Plantsville, CT on March 5, 2020 (senior year). Received All-State honors in the 55m, 300m, and long jump.

Their fates lay in the hands of anonymous officials whose names no one, even now, knows or remembers. They come and go from their offices, move through their day, facing no serious consequences for the far-reaching decisions they’ve made behind the scenes. Google one of them, and you’ll see one, maybe two references that may or may not even relate to the issue.

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Then type in the name of my daughter or one of the other young women who filed suit through Alliance Defending Freedom against the Connecticut Interstate Athletic Conference (a nearly three-year-old matter now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit). You’ll find pages and pages of op-eds and hit pieces and denunciations of their motives and character. Follow them around their college campuses, and you’ll see the daily pushback they endure from peers who’ve bought into the media push in support of this unfair competition.

Chelsea Chelsea Mitchell is a college sophomore and track athlete. She is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.

Chelsea Chelsea Mitchell is a college sophomore and track athlete. She is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. (ADF)

These girls didn’t make the rules, upend the norms, or codify regulations that deny biological reality. They didn’t do anything to destroy women’s sports.

They’re just taking the fall for those who did.

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It’s a cruel cowardice these bureaucrats are hiding, and it’s changing countless young lives in irreversible ways. 

“Unfair” doesn’t begin to cover it.

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