Chelsea Mitchell was a high school track athlete in Connecticut. Her scholastic track career was cut short when two biological males who identify as transgender joined women’s high school athletic competitions and literally ran away with all the top medals and accolades.
Mitchell wrote about her experience for USA Today in an opinion column, using the language that best described that experience, and using the word “male” to describe the biologically male athletes who identify as transgender. After the article was published, USA Today scrubbed Mitchell’s words, replacing the word “male” with “transgender.”
This completely belied Mitchell’s intention. Mitchell wrote about being crouched and ready to race on the starting line, “ranked fasted high school female in the 55-meter dash in the state,” and knowing she should feel confident.
“Instead,” she wrote, “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 advantage: a male body.”
USA Today updated that to read “transgender runner,” citing as they did so that “This column has been updated to reflect USA TODAY’s standards and style guidelines.” They add further insult to Mitchell and her testimony by saying “We regret that hurtful language was used.”
They made these changes throughout Mitchell’s column. Mitchell knew that she was running against an athlete with a male body and all the advantages that this person’s male body brought with it in terms of raw strength, muscle mass, and bone density.