Only two months after upholding the state of Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender girls to compete according to their gender identity in high school sports, a New York-based federal appeals court has decided to rehear the case.
On Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to reinstate last fall’s challenge from four cisgender track and field athletes. In their appeal, the plaintiffs had asked the court to bar Connecticut from enforcing its policy and delete all athletic records set by transgender athletes from the official archives.
The initial ruling came by a three-judge panel, but in an unusual move a majority of the full circuit voted to reinstate the challenge, the Associated Press reported:
The court said in a decision Monday that a majority of its judges voted in favor of rehearing the appeal, a rare move by the court. The court did not say why it voted on whether to rehear the case, and none of the parties to the lawsuit requested a rehearing.
The court has become more conservative in recent years, with five of its 13 judges — excluding several senior judges — having been appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Originally, the appeals court upheld a lower court judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that the cisgender athletes’ claims that they were deprived of wins, state titles, and scholarship opportunities were merely speculative. Two of the transgender athletes mentioned in the lawsuit were Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, both of whom have been the focus of Outsports’ coverage.
The American Civil Liberties Union successfully defended Connecticut’s policy before the court during the first appeal and will be attempting to do so again when the case gets reheard.
In a statement to the AP, ACLU lawyer Joshua Block said, “As the initial ruling found, cisgender girls lose nothing from the participation of transgender girls and Connecticut’s policy simply recognizes the right of all student athletes to equal participation and protection under Title IX.”
During the previous appeal, the state of Connecticut’s policy defending transgender girls also drew the support of prominent athletes like Megan Rapinoe, Layshia Clarendon, Jasmine Thomas and Lori Lindsay.
The plaintiffs will once again be represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. A rehearing date has not been reported yet but given the rare nature of this occurrence, it will bear watching to see how this could affect Connecticut’s trans athlete-inclusive policies going forward.