National newspaper and online publication USA Today is facing backlash from conservatives after it replaced all mentions of the word male with transgender in former Connecticut high school runner Chelsea Mitchell’s op-ed—without her approval.
Mitchell is among four female plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Connecticut’s athletic association over its policy of allowing boys who identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports.
In the USA Today piece, Mitchell describes the unfairness she’s experienced as a female runner competing against biological males who identify as transgender.
“I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners,” she writes. “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,” she admits. “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.”
Mitchell’s original piece was published by USA Today on May 22, but three days later editors altered the article, eliminating any references they deemed offensive to the LGBTQ community.
They also added an editor’s note to the top of article, which reads: “This column has been updated to reflect USA Today’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used.”
Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who has been representing Mitchell and her fellow athletes, accused USA Today of caving to the “woke mob.”
“USA Today violated its principles to appease the mob,” she tweeted. “This blatant censorship violates the trust we place in media to be honest brokers of public debate.
“Chelsea’s experience and viewpoint matters.”
Following USA Today’s edits, ADF quickly posted the original article to its website, explaining:
“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.”
Last month, a federal district judge dismissed Mitchell’s case against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, saying it was not “justiciable at this time.”
But Mitchell says she and the other female athletes are “not beaten yet.”
“We’re taking our case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, where we are going to ask once again for the court to recognize our right to fair competition—a right that Title IX has promised to girls and women for 50 years,” she said in her op-ed. “And we’re fighting not just for ourselves, but for all female athletes.”
ADF attorneys filed the notice of appeal in Mitchell’s case on May 26.