For the second straight year, a small group of transgender athletes dominated their respective events at the girls track and field state championships in Connecticut. Apparently, the second time through the ringer for some fellow competitors was too much, with parents of those athletes now stepping forward to try to ban those transgender athletes from competing as females.
As reported by the Hartford Courant, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference allows athletes to compete as members of the gender with which they identify. That means that transgender teenagers can compete alongside cisgender opponents, creating what some feel is an uneven playing field.
Supporters of two petitions to eliminate the transgender regulations claim that their efforts aren’t aimed at the individual athletes who will be most directly impacted by the regulations. Still, it’s impossible to overlook the success of Andraya Yearwood, who first spoke about her transition to being a transgender female with the Courant a year ago. In the time since then, Yearwood has captured back-to-back 100-meter State Open titles as a freshman and sophomore. After Yearwood broke out as a freshman she inspired multiple other transgender entrants, according to the Courant.
While parents of opposing runners may deny their petitions have anything to do with the chosen gender identity of the teens in question, it’s hard to debate the impact such rules and regulations could have on transgender athletes themselves.
“A transgender girl is a girl and ought to be treated like a girl,” Erin Buzuvis, the law professor who is the director of the Center of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England College, told the 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. And it would be possible she’d be beating their daughters if she was cisgender (someone who identifies with their birth sex).”
There’s much more detailed debate about the issue which plays out at the Courant, but perhaps the most clear-minded responses to Yearwood were provided by her fellow athletes on both sides of the ideological divide.
“To be honest, I think it’s great they get a chance to compete and as long as they’re happy, I guess there’s not that much I can do,” RHAM sprinter Bridget Lalonde, who finished third in the 100 behind Yearwood, told the Courant. “The rules are the rules. The only competition is the clock because you can only run as fast as you can run.”
“I think it’s unfair to the girls who work really hard to do well and qualify for Opens and New Englands,” Glastonbury sophomore sprinter Selina Soule, who finished sixth in the 100-meter State Open final behind Yearwood, told the Courant. “These girls, they’re just coming in and beating everyone. I have no problem with them wanting to be a girl.”