USA Today scrubs 'male' from teen's op-ed on competing against transgender athletes

Chelsea Mitchell wrote about competing against biologically male athletes

Former high school track athlete Chelsea Mitchell was the "fastest girl in Connecticut" at one point in time until the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) began allowing transgender girls to compete in women's sports. 

Last week, USA Today published an op-ed from Mitchell about competing against transgender athletes and her decision to push forward with an appeal of the case. On May 25, editors at USA Today, without notice to Chelsea, changed the word "male" to "transgender" throughout her piece and condemned her use of "hurtful language."

In an editor’s note, the outlet explained that the op-ed was updated to "reflect USA Today’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used."

In a series of tweets, Mitchell's attorney, Christiana Holcomb, accused the media organization of "unilaterally" changing Mitchell’s words after acquiescing to "backlash from the woke mob."

"USA Today violated its principles to appease the mob. This blatant censorship violates the trust we place in media to be honest brokers of public debate," Holcomb wrote. The original op-ed has been published in full by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the nonprofit legal group that represents Mitchell. 

Mitchell is one of three Connecticut female high school track stars who filed a lawsuit to overturn the state athletic conference's transgender policy at the beginning of 2020. 

"I've lost four women's state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and countless other opportunities and spots on the podium to biologically male runners," Mitchell said in an interview with Fox News.

"Title IX is really clear that the reason we have women's sports as a separate category is to protect equal athletic opportunities for female athletes like Chelsea," Holcomb, the Alliance Defending Freedom attorney representing the girls, told Fox News. "And that is just not what's happening in the state of Connecticut right now with biological males having dominated the girls category."


Last month a federal district court dismissed the case, but according to Holcomb the fight isn’t over yet. "Just today Alliance Defending Freedom filed a notice of appeal with the 2nd Circuit," she said.

"The district court still refused to engage with the merits of the argument and recognize that the girls have had significant losses," she said. "The court utterly dismissed their lost opportunities and achievements and so we want to see that remedied." 

Having graduated high school last year and now running at the collegiate level, Mitchell says she is doing this not just for herself but for all women athletes in her state. 

"It is a big issue," Mitchell said. "Personally, I lost a lot, but there were countless other girls that also lost state championships. I believe there were 15 state championships that the two biological males took from biological females. And there were more than 85 girls that missed out on opportunities to advance in medal and make finals. And so it's not just me, girls across the state were being impacted by this policy."


"We hope that the girls' records will be fixed," Holcomb said and claimed the girls should be recognized for the achievements they would have made had it not been for the unfair advantage of the trans athletes they competed against. 

They are also pushing to have the policy changed so trans athletes can no longer participate in women’s athletics. "We want to see the policy fixed so that no other young women in the state of Connecticut have to experience that unfairness," Holcomb said.