Attorneys representing three female high school track athletes have asked the judge presiding over the case to recuse himself after he prohibited the legal team from referring to transgender athletes by their biological sex.
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit in February on behalf of three girls against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, challenging the CIAC's policy allowing athletes to compete based on their gender identity, rather than biological sex. ADF alleges that the policy disadvantages women in violation of the Title IX, which prohibits against discrimination on the basis of sex.
District Judge Robert Chatigny during an April conference call prohibited ADF attorneys from referring to male athletes who presented as females as "males."
"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," Chatigny said. "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."
Roger Brooks, the lead attorney for ADF, said changing how the attorneys referenced the athletes did not accurately represent their client.
"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," Brooks said.
The judge said he would allow Brooks to use "transgender" rather than "transgender females," but also added that he felt he had to draw a hard line about the terminology.
"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," Chatigny said. "I don't know. But I certainly don't want to put civility at risk in this case."
ADF attorneys filed a motion on Saturday arguing that the judge's order is "legally unprecedented" and is no longer impartial.
"A disinterested observer would reasonably believe that the Court's order and comments have destroyed the appearance of impartiality in this proceeding. That requires recusal," reads the motion. "To be sure, the public debate over gender identity and sports is a heated and emotional one. This only increases the urgency that court preserve their role as the singular place in society where all can be heard and present facts before an impartial tribunal."