Transgender sprinter Andraya Yearwood from Cromwell High School in Cromwell, Connecticut, won the girls’ 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the Connecticut high school Class M state championships. Yearwood was born male but allowed to compete with the girls. To make matters worse, she is a freshman, so she beat girls who are as many as three years older than her. Had she competed with the boys, she would have taken last place.
“It feels really good,” Yearwood told The Day after winning the races on May 30. “I’m really happy to win both titles. I kind of expected it. I’ve always gotten first, so I expected it to some extent” (emphasis added).
Kate Hall, the junior from Stonington High School who won the 100-meter dash last year — a feat for a sophomore — was reportedly “emotional” after losing to Yearwood. “It’s frustrating,” Hall told the Hartford Courant. “But that’s just the way it is now.”
Here is a video of the race.
— Courant HS Sports (@CTVarsity) May 30, 2017
“I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it,” Hall added, perhaps alluding to the fact that she had to compete with a biological boy. “You can’t blame anyone. Her times were slowing during the season. If I ran my best race, I could have won. I didn’t. I hadn’t felt good the last three days, but there are no excuses.”
“Kate was emotional,” Stonington coach Ben Bowne told the Courant. “She works really hard. She’s a very competitive athlete. She hates losing to anybody.”
Even after her emotional defeat, Hall showed grace to Yearwood. “From what I know she is really nice and that’s all that matters. She’s not rude and obnoxious,” the junior said.
Rahsaan Yearwood, the transgender freshman sprinter’s father, told the Courant that his daughter will begin consultations about hormone treatment in June, after her double victory at the state championships.
The father, who played college football, explained that there is often unfairness in sports. “There are guys who were 350 points,” he said. “It wasn’t fair that as a 225-pound linebacker, they came to block me, but that’s the nature of the beast.”
“As her father, I never think about it as competition,” the father added. “This is not about winning and losing races. This is about the health of my teenage daughter. In terms of the fairness aspect, I don’t think about that as a father. I only think about, is my daughter happy, healthy and able to participate in what she wants do to? I don’t care if she wins or loses. … She got to compete as a girl where she feels she should compete. That’s all that matters to me.”
Buried in The Day‘s report about the race was this fact: “Yearwood ran for the boys’ track team in middle school before transitioning to female.” In the 100-meter dash, Yearwood won with a time of 12.66 seconds, beating Hall’s 12.83 seconds. In the 200-meter dash, Yearwood took first with 26.08 seconds, and Hall placed third with 26.65 seconds.
As The Stream’s Rob Shimshock noted, Yearwood’s time would have put her in last place in the boy’s race. The last-place finisher for the boys’ 100-meter dash was Shayne Beckloff, a junior from Waterford High School, with a time of 11.73 seconds. In the 200-meter dash, Terrance Gallishaw, a senior from O’Brien Tech, took last with 25.59 seconds.
This video from a local news station shows Yearwood jogging with teenage girls, and in action she looks like a man — more heavily built and with broader shoulders than the others.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) leaves gender identity cases to local school districts, according to an earlier Courant story. “According to the CIAC handbook, it is fundamentally unjust and contrary to applicable state and federal law to preclude a student from participation on a gender specific sports team that is consisted with the public gender identity of that student,” the Courant reported.
But Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs insisted that it was not fair. “On a biologically competitive basis, it was not” fair, he wrote. But since “participation is paramount in high school sports,” he concluded that “what constitutes fairness in the world of sports remains to be settled.”
“Humanity counts. So does biology,” Jacobs wrote. “For me, somebody who has observed sports and written about all kinds of athletes for four decades, the integrity of the state competition for these two races Tuesday was compromised.”
“I know they’ll say it is unfair and not right,” Yearwood’s mother, Ngozi Nnaji, told the Courant. “But my counter to that is: ‘Why not?’ She is competing and practicing and giving her all and performing and excelling based on her skills. Let that be enough. Let her do that and be proud of that.”
But Yearwood, a biological male who has not even undergone hormone therapy much less transgender surgery, took first place, as she “always” does. The transgender girl’s parents may insist that “this is not about winning or losing races,” but how is it at all fair for a biological male to compete with biological females — leaving them in the dust?
As the LGBT movement makes further strides in culture and in law, these issues have been rising up in sports, of all places. Laurel Hubbard, also born a male, won the Australian International women’s weightlifting competition this March. Last June, Nattaphon Wangyot — another teen male identifying as transgender — beat girls in track, though she did not take first.
“I don’t know what’s politically correct to say, but in my opinion your gender is what you’re born with,” Peyton Young, a junior who won the 3,200-meter race in the track meet where Wangyot competed last year, told the Alaska Dispatch News. “It’s the DNA. Genetically a guy has more muscle mass than a girl, and if he’s racing against a girl, he may have an advantage.”
Is this opinion bigotry, or science?