NEW YORK (WTNH) — Former high school runners from Connecticut were back in court challenging a school policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in high school sports. 

Oral arguments were presented at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City. The original lawsuit was filed in 2020. Four former high school athletes sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, multiple school boards and two transgender student-athletes. 

After the hearing, the athletes, Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell, and Ashley Nicoletti, and their attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom spoke to reporters. The women said racing against transgender students who were assigned male at birth was unfair. 

“Mentally it was devastating and defeating. I knew the outcome of the race before I even lined up,” Smith said. 

Court to reconsider Connecticut’s transgender athlete policy

“I lost podium spots, awards and recognitions and uneventfully four state championships in my junior year, the time when it was crucial for college recruitment,” Mitchell said. 

The case was dismissed by a federal judge in 2021. In December 2022, the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision. In February 2023, the Second Circuit announced it would re-hear the case. 

“I don’t want any other girl to experience the pain that I went through during my high school career. I am speaking up not only for myself but future generations of girls to come,” Soule said. 

The American Civil Liberties Union defended the state’s policy, saying all girls, transgender and cisgender, have a right to play under Title 9. 

In a statement, the ACLU said: “We hope the court will follow the facts and uphold its earlier decision. No matter what, we know that trans children should be loved, affirmed, and respected everywhere, including in our schools and on our sports teams.”