Parents and student-athletes in Connecticut are big mad after two transgender high school sprinters took home state titles this track season. Critics have since launched a petition demanding trans athletes compete by their birth gender rather than their gender identity.
The controversy unfolded last year after the success of sophomore track runner Andraya Yearwood, who finished second in the 100-meter at the Connecticut State Championship meet, Out Sports reported. The outrage grew, however, after fellow trans sprinter Terry Miller set two states open meet records in the girls 100- and 200-meter dash.
Miller, also a sophomore, now has two New England Championship wins under her belt, both in the 100- and 200-meter races where she beat Yearwood.
Not everyone is thrilled about the athletes’ success, however. Parents and other athletes argued that the transgender competitors have an unfair advantage over others. Now they’re calling on the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs the state’s high school sports, to do something about it.
The conference currently allows high school athletes to compete according to the gender they identify with.
“I think it’s unfair to the girls who work really hard to do well and qualify for Opens and New Englands [competitions],” Selina Soule, a 10th grader who finished sixth in the 100-meter dash at the state meet, told the Hartford Courant. “These girls, they’re just coming in and beating everyone.”
So far, critics in two cities — Glastonbury and Plainville — have started petitions to block athletes like Miller and Yearwood from competing as their preferred gender identity. Together, the petitions have collected roughly 150 signatures but neither has been submitted to the CIAC, the newspaper reported.
Bianca Stanescu, Soule’s mother, has been circulating one of the petitions at her daughter’s track meets, which calls on the state legislature to force athletes to compete by their birth gender, unless that athlete has undergone hormone therapy. The other petition was launched by Jarmaine Lee, the father of two Plainville boys runners.
Trans advocates have come out in opposition to the petitions, arguing that such a policy would be discriminatory and that trans athletes are abiding by CIAC rules.
“A transgender girl is a girl and ought to be treated like a girl,” Erin Buzuvis, a law professor and director of the Center of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England College, told the Hartford Courant. “If you start to put limitations or exclusions on their participation, not only do you run the risk of violating state anti-discrimination law, but also you are disregarding and disrespecting a population of students based on a core aspect of their identity, which is something that schools should not be in the practice of doing.”
“I understand that it appears to many people as an inequitable playing field, but they don’t have any context or knowledge about how that athlete’s life would be if she weren’t transgender,” Buzuvis added. “And it would be possible she’d be beating their daughters if she was cisgender.”
Folks on social media have also weighed in on the issue.
This Andraya Yearwood/Terry Miller story is pissing me off. Especially as a person that ran track damn near all my life. If you haven’t done anything to transition (surgery/hormones) etc you should not be able to compete just bc you identify. Debate your mother.
— 𝔼𝕓. (@EbtheCeleb) June 14, 2018
Why do we separate sport by sex? Is it fair that females should compete against males? What about Andraya Yearwood, an unaltered male, no hormones, no interventions just hair extensions and taking titles from young women. Have a nice day Helen. https://t.co/FdbG27kOh1
— Stephen Wilson (@faintlyfalling) June 13, 2018