No sympathy

If you want LGBTQWTF equality, then you deserve it, good and hard:

Andraya Yearwood hears the comments, usually from adults and usually not to her face.

She shouldn’t be running, they say, not against girls.

Yearwood, a 17-year-old junior at Cromwell High School, is one of two transgender high school sprinters in Connecticut, transitioning to female.

She recently finished second in the 55-meter dash at the state open indoor track championships. The winner, Terry Miller of Bloomfield High, is also transgender and set a girls state indoor record of 6.95 seconds. Yearwood finished in 7.01 seconds and the third-place competitor, who is not transgender, finished in 7.23 seconds.

Miller and Yearwood also topped the 100-meter state championships last year, and Miller won the 300 this season.

Critics say their gender identity amounts to an unfair advantage, expressing a familiar argument in a complex debate for transgender athletes as they break barriers across sports around the world from high school to the pros.

“I have learned a lot about myself and about other people through this transition. I always try to focus most on all of the positive encouragement that I have received from family, friends and supporters,” Yearwood said. “I use the negativity to fuel myself to run faster.”

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, which tracks state policies in high school sports across the country. Seven states have restrictions that make it difficult for transgender athletes to compete while in school, like requiring athletes to compete under the gender on their birth certificate, or allowing them to participate only after going through sex-reassignment procedures or hormone therapies.

The other states either have no policy or handle the issue on a case-by-case basis.

Yearwood acknowledges she is stronger than many of her cisgender competitors, but says girls who are not transgender may have other advantages.

“One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” she said. “One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster.”

Miller, who declined to be interviewed for this story, has said that if she felt a competitor had an unfair advantage, it would simply push her to try to improve.

One of their competitors, Selina Soule, says the issue is about fairness on the track with wider implications. The Glastonbury High School junior finished eighth in the 55, missing out on qualifying for the New England regionals by two spots.

Soule believes that had Miller and Yearwood not run, she would be on her way to race in Boston in front of more college coaches.

“We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing,” she said. “I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair.”

If you fully support these athletes, then stop crying about losing to them. Frankly, I don’t see how separate boys and girls competitions can be permitted any more than separate black and white competitions are.

In fact, isn’t it totally unequalitarian to deny people who don’t have the good fortune to attend high school, or be of high school age, the right to compete in high school track meets?

If equality is the standard, then impose complete equality across every single social construct. And if you won’t do that, then you obviously don’t believe in equality and we’re just arguing over where to draw the lines between various differences.


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