USA Today edited an op-ed it published earlier this week to remove all mention of transgender student athletes as biologically male.

Former high school athlete Chelsea Mitchell wrote Saturday in USA Today about her ongoing legal battle against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) to ban biologically male athletes from girls’ sports. The outlet edited Mitchell’s work Wednesday, taking out every instance that Mitchell referred to transgender competitors as male. USA Today tacked on an editor’s note to the top of Mitchell’s piece saying it had been edited to remove “hurtful language.”

“Editor’s note: This column has been updated to reflect USA TODAY’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used,” the note says.

The outlet replaced references to male athletes that Mitchell competed against, and lost to numerous times. Instead, the piece now refers to them as “transgender” athletes. For example, the opening paragraphs of Mitchell’s piece contain multiple changes. The original version republished by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Mitchell in her court battle, says:

It’s February 2020. I’m crouched at the starting line of the high school girls’ 55-meter indoor race. This should be one of the best days of my life. I’m running in the state championship, and I’m ranked the fastest high school female in the 55-meter dash in the state. I should be feeling confident. I should know that I have a strong shot at winning.

Instead, 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 physical advantage: a male body.

I won that race, and I’m grateful. But time after time, I have lost. I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners. 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.

The edited version of the same op-ed now reads:

It’s February 2020. I’m crouched at the starting line of the high school girls’ 55-meter indoor race. This should be one of the best days of my life. I’m running in the state championship, and I’m ranked the fastest high school female in the 55-meter dash in the state. I should be feeling confident. I should know that I have a strong shot at winning.

Instead, 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 transgender runner on the line with an enormous physical advantage.

I won that race, and I’m grateful. But time after time, I have lost. I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to transgender runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two transgender runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again.

ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb slammed USA Today for the edits, which she said undermines Mitchell’s argument and is a violation of journalistic principles in favor of appeasing the “woke mob.”

“@USATODAY published our client Chelsea Mitchell’s opinion about the unfairness she experienced being forced to compete against male athletes. But after backlash from the woke mob, editors unilaterally changed Chelsea’s words & called them ‘hurtful language,’” Holcomb wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

“What was the ‘hurtful language’ that editors deleted from Chelsea’s opinion piece three days after publication? The word ‘male,’” she continued. “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.” 

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