The female high school athlete who was forced to sit on the sidelines at a major track tournament because two transgender runners landed the No. 1 and No. 2 spots isn’t just speaking out about the unfairness of her situation—she’s fighting back.
Hours after filing a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Selina Soule and her attorney, Christiana Holcomb of Alliance Defending Freedom, sat down with Kelsey Bolar on this week’s edition of “Problematic Women” to discuss the latest developments in her case.
In addition to that interview, Bolar and co-host Beverly Hallberg of District Media Group talk about Teen Vogue promoting prostitution to teenage girls, CNN labeling first lady Melania Trump a “Woman of Mystery,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., admitting Republicans were probably right about allegations against Bill Clinton, and women saying they prefer “Dad bods” over perfectly toned six-packs.
Listen or read a lightly edited transcript of our interview with Soule and Holcomb below.
Kelsey Bolar: Let’s start with you, Selina. For those who didn’t see our video and aren’t familiar with your story, can you recap what happened?
Selina Soule: In the indoor season at the state open championship, I came in eighth place in the 55-meter dash. The top seven qualify for the finals of the 55-meter dash, and the top six qualify for the regional New England meet.
I came in eighth place overall, but I would have been sixth place because the first two spots are taken by two transgender athletes.
Bolar: And just to clarify, you are a rising senior?
Bolar: From Glastonbury, Connecticut?
Bolar: OK. We’re going to get more into the backstory of how this happened.
Not only did you fight back by speaking up about your ordeal, which I’m going to get to more later, but there’s been a big development in your case.
This week, lawyers on your behalf actually filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Christiana, can you tell us more about the step, and why you decided to take it on Selina’s behalf?
Christina Holcomb: Sure, absolutely.
Girls like Selina deserve a level playing field in athletics, right?
We know Title IX was designed to ensure that women were free of sex discrimination in education and, secondly, in athletics so that they could have the opportunity to compete, to move to the next level, to compete for scholarships, and potentially even launch their own athletic careers.
But what the Athletic Association in Connecticut has done by allowing biological males to compete in Selina’s female track tournaments is actually completely undermine and violate Title IX.
So Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of Salina and two other very courageous female athletes, has filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education.
What that basically means is we’ve asked the department to investigate and to, ultimately, restore fairness to women’s sports.
Bolar: Explain the laws, regulations, or just policies at the state or even athletic level in this case that are enabling biological boys to be competing as girls in high school sports.
Holcomb: I’m happy to jump in here. … Basically, the statewide Athletic Association in the state of Connecticut decided that biological males who identify as female may now—with no … transition or hormone, or any standards whatsoever, quite frankly—compete with the biological girls if they choose to do so.
We’re aware of at least two boys who are now not just competing against the girls, but absolutely dominating female track and field events in Connecticut.
Bolar: And Selina, this is a big step for you. As if speaking out in front of millions of people weren’t hard enough, now you’re actually filing a complaint before the U.S. Department of Education. Why did you decide to take this step?
Soule: I think that it’s important for fairness to be returned to not just track and field, but all female sports.
We’ve tried to talk to the Connecticut Athletic Association, and we’ve tried to talk to my school’s officials, and no one wants to hear us.
I think that this was the best way to get our voice out there and try to find a solution.
Bolar: It’s crazy to me that you say nobody wants to hear you because the reaction to the seven-minute documentary that we published on your story at The Daily Signal has been incredible.
It has 2.65 million views on YouTube and 3.8 million views on Facebook. Every day those numbers are still climbing.
That is our highest performing video we’ve ever published in the five years The Daily Signal has existed.
Were you surprised by this reaction, how it went viral, or did that scare you a bit?
Soule: I’m certainly surprised by it, even to this day, because I thought that it would be gaining a lot of attention for maybe a couple of weeks after it was just released. But even now, to this day, there’s still people watching it.
There’s still more comments being posted, and I’m having kids from other schools in other states at track meets coming up to me and thanking me for this.
I’m having hundreds and hundreds of people reaching out to me on social media thanking me for speaking out, so I’m a little overwhelmed by it to be quite honest.
Bolar: Wow. And has there been backlash mixed in with that?
Soule: I’ve gotten some backlash, but I don’t pay too much attention to it. The amount of hatred that I’ve gotten has been so minuscule compared to all the love and support.
So for me, I’m focusing on that and focusing on trying to bring back fairness to my sport.
Bolar: The comments are overwhelmingly positive when you read through them on Facebook or YouTube. I wanted to read you a couple and get your reaction:
This girl is risking her entire future by speaking out in this manner. I hope you all can appreciate that. Good job on this high school student displaying true bravery in a world that would crucify people for voicing opinions. I agree with her 100%, and I’m trans. Not all trans people are so radically left about gender and this stuff. This is so sad. I don’t think people should be afraid of speaking up. Facts are facts. Biological males will be able to compete at a higher level than biological females. That’s just biology.
Were you surprised by any of this feedback?
Soule: To some extent, yes. I know that not all transgender people have the same viewpoints as the rest and the far left, but some I know because I have some transgender athletes in my school, they are transgender males, and they also don’t agree that this is fair.
It’s coming down to common sense and realizing that men are physically superior to women. That’s just science. It’s not subjective. It’s objective.
Bolar: You weren’t the only athlete that I interviewed when I visited you in my home state of Connecticut. I interviewed a handful of other girls, but I talked to them off the record. I got their voices on audio, but they did not want to show their faces.
When we published their voices, we actually had to alter them to protect their identities. We didn’t use their names. We didn’t use any identifiable characteristics.
Understandably, they were concerned about being labeled bigots and facing backlash.
… Without using their names, have you heard from any of them, their reaction to how this video has gone viral?
Soule: I don’t think anyone was expecting it to become this popular and to really go viral.
We all knew that it would probably be spread along the track community, not only in Connecticut, but maybe across the U.S., but I don’t think any of us expected it to get this much attention and still continuing to.
Bolar: Christiana, what do you think it says that so many Americans who probably couldn’t care less about track are watching this, and sharing feedback, and sharing the video, and having such a strong reaction to it?
Holcomb: I think it means that the unfairness of what’s happening to Selina and these other girls in Connecticut is just really clear, right? There’s not a whole lot of room for debate.
Every boy who is standing on the podium or medaling in a women’s sporting event is one fewer girl that is medaling or standing on that podium. I think Americans of all shapes, sizes, affiliations, and so forth get the basic unfairness of that.
Bolar: I can’t help but think after reading through the comments that so many people are just relieved and refreshed that a young girl like yourself is willing to speak honestly about the situation, and share how it’s impacting you.
Because, unfortunately, there is so much intolerance surrounding this issue. So I think that they really do value your voice in this conversation.
This conversation is also about legislation that Congress is considering, the Equality Act. Christiana, can you break that down?
So the Equality Act is a piece of legislation, as you mentioned, introduced into Congress, passed by the House, but is still pending in the Senate, thankfully.
What it would do is essentially impose a gender identity law across the entire country.
So the particular policy that Selina is fighting in the state of Connecticut that’s allowing biological males to compete in sports designed specifically for women, that would become the law of the land in all 50 states, at every level—city, state, and federal—which, frankly, I think is a really scary proposition.
I think it has massive, massive ramifications, particularly for young women like Selina.
Bolar: Selina, you’ve spoken out against this legislation. Why are you taking … the conversation there?
Soule: I’m taking it to that point because I know once this law is passed, or if it is passed, that it’ll completely destroy women’s sports.
Women will be on the sidelines watching their own events because no matter how hard we try, and how much effort we put in the gym, and the track, on the court, on the field, wherever, we will never be able to be competitive with a man. It’s not possible.
Bolar: I don’t know if you heard, but there’s a newly released music video by Taylor Swift reiterating her call for the Senate to pass the Equality Act.
Again, the Equality Act could enable biological boys who identify as girls to compete as girls in sports across the country.
Taylor Swift, of course, has not acknowledged that part of the conversation. She’s brushed over it.
But in her new song, Taylor is effectively telling those like you, Selina, who oppose the Equality Act, “You need to calm down.”
Have you heard this song? And how does that make you feel?
Soule: I have not heard this song. I’m upset by that because I only have an issue with it for athletics. For everyday life, it doesn’t matter.
I fully support anyone who wants to identify as whatever they are. To me, it doesn’t matter.
In everyday life, a man and a woman are going to do an office job the same, and learn in a classroom the exact same, but athletics have always had separate rules because of great physical differences between a man and a woman.
Bolar: … You just finished your junior year. This is an important time for you as someone who wants to compete in track in college. How is this affecting those dreams?
Soule: It can greatly impact my future because when the college coaches are looking at the results from these meets online, there’s no indication that these athletes are transgender. They’re either listed under the boys’ category or the girls’ category.
So unless they’ve somehow heard about this story or they typed these athletes’ names into Google, then they would have no idea that they are transgender.
With the current CAC or the current … NCAA policy, transgender athletes cannot compete until they’ve completed hormone therapy. There’s a certain regulation in policy for that. The coaches wouldn’t be able to recruit them until they have completed that.
So I haven’t directly had any effects from this yet, but it certainly could have an impact.
Bolar: For the record, we very intentionally did not use the names of the two transgender student athletes. They have been public. They have participated in their own interviews in the media.
But we felt it was incredibly important to let your story be told and let the focus be on you because the mainstream media and the liberal media does a pretty good job of sharing how they feel, but you really were one of the first voices to really be heard from the other perspective. Clearly, a lot of people identify with that.
Christiana, I want to know, regarding the complaint you filed, what are the next steps? How long is this process going to take? What can we expect?
Holcomb: All great questions.
So, the next step is the Department of Education should open an investigation that will happen very quietly behind the scenes.
It will be investigating … the athletic policy that’s in place, allowing transgender athletes to compete in female sports.
We’re just optimistic that ultimately they will come back and say, “Clear Title IX violation,” and really remedy the wrong.
What we want is for a level playing field for Selina and her fellow female athletes to be able to compete against fellow biological girls and really have the chance to be recruited and earn those college scholarships.
Bolar: Selina, as we wrap up this interview, I can’t help but ask you this question. I don’t know if this is something you have thought through much at your age, but it’s a question we love asking women who come in because there are a range of different answers, and none of them are wrong. Do you identify as a feminist?
Soule: I don’t really know how to answer to that.
I haven’t dove too deep into that, but I believe that women should be equal to men. There shouldn’t be a wage gap, and there should be paid maternity leave, and women should have an equal opportunity in athletics and in other areas.
But I don’t know if I would label myself as a feminist at this point in time. Maybe in the future, but I’m not sure.
Bolar: Would you go so far as to label yourself a problematic woman?
Bolar: … You’ve been very problematic.
Well, Selina and Christiana, thank you so much for joining us in the studio today.
Holcomb: Thanks for having us.
Soule: Thank you for having us.