Christina Ginther, a biological man who identifies as a woman, won a discrimination lawsuit this week after being rejected from playing on an all-women’s Minnesota football team due to safety concerns.
Ginther, who’s nearly 6 feet tall and a second-degree black belt in karate, was awarded a total of $20,000 with the legal win: $10,000 in punitive damages and $10,000 for emotional distress.
The 46-year-old claims he was initially welcomed by the Minnesota Vixen football team, which was then part of the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL), during pre-tryout practices in 2016. But when team owner Laura Brown learned that Ginther was actually a biological male, she informed Ginther that biological men were barred from playing in the league due to safety concerns.
An attorney for the team, Greg Van Gompel, said Brown instead offered Ginther a role assisting the coach or helping the team keep stats during their games. He further explained that Brown was bound by IWFL policy: “It says, ‘A player may not play in the IWFL, unless they are now, and always have been, legally and medically a female, as determined by their birth certificate and driver’s license,” said Van Gompel, according to MPR News.
Ginther refused the offer from Brown, saying he “felt violated” from the rejection.
“She said, ‘Well, your numbers were good. But in the process of drawing up player contracts, we looked at your social media and found out that you’re transgender,'” recalled Ginther.
“Ginther recalled Brown telling her the league didn’t allow players who were born biologically male because of safety issues,” the report notes.
“I hung up the phone and just felt violated. I mean, just the sense of, ‘I’m a freak. I’m a defective. I am not worthy to be with this team,” Ginther said.
On being found out as trans, Ginther said, “I don’t know what could have given me away.”
“The stereotype is that women like to ask if a dress makes them look fat,” he said. “I ask, ‘Does this make me look like a boy?'”
A discrimination suit against the team and the league was filed in 2017, citing a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which protects individuals from being discriminated against by businesses based on sexual orientation. Though, notably, Ginther won on the basis of being trans, not gay.
A Dakota County jury sided with Ginther. The ruling, the first of its kind in Minnesota, making women-only teams or groups within the state potentially “discriminatory.”
Ginther played football in a different women’s league, the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.