Editor’s note: On May 22, USA Today published an opinion piece from Alliance Defending Freedom client Chelsea Mitchell (Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools) about the injustice she experienced as an athlete who was forced to compete against males in track. On May 25, editors at USA Today, without notice to Chelsea, changed the word “male” to “transgender” throughout her piece and added the following editor’s note to the top of it:
“This column has been updated to reflect USA TODAY’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used.”
We reproduce the original version of Chelsea’s piece below so that you can read what she wrote prior to USA Today’s post-publication edits and editor’s note, which inappropriately assigned “hurtful” motives to Chelsea’s logical use of the word “male” to refer to the biology of males who compete in female sports.
By Chelsea Mitchell | 26 May 2021
ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM — It’s February 2020. I’m crouched at the starting line of the high school girls’ 55-meter indoor race. This should be one of the best days of my life. I’m running in the state championship, and I’m ranked the fastest high school female in the 55-meter dash in the state. I should be feeling confident. I should know that I have a strong shot at winning.
Instead, all I can think about is how all my training, everything I’ve done to maximize my performance, might not be enough, simply because there’s a runner on the line with an enormous physical advantage: a male body.
I won that race, and I’m grateful. But time after time, I have lost.
I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two male runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again.
That’s a devastating experience. It tells me that I’m not good enough; that my body isn’t good enough; and that no matter how hard I work, I am unlikely to succeed, because I’m a woman. […]