“We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts.”
Two transgender high school sprinters dominated the female competition at a Connecticut track event Saturday in New Haven.
Running in the 55-meter dash at the state indoor track championships, Terry Miller of Bloomfield High School, crossed the finish line first in 6.95 seconds, the third-fastest time in the United States.
Andraya Yearwood, a 17-year-old from Cromwell High School, came in a close second, at 7.01 seconds. She ranks seventh in the event nationwide.
The closest biological female competitor lagged well over a quarter-second behind Miller, finishing in 7.23 seconds. In video of the event, the gap between the transgender athletes and the rest of the pack is clear.
Miller and Yearwood, who are transitioning to female, were similarly superlative last year, when as sophomores they topped the 100-meter state outdoor championships. Their runaway success provoked objections that they have an unfair advantage.
In a June segment about the controversy on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Miller told correspondent Linsey Davis that female runners should work harder instead of complaining.
But Selina Soule, who like Miller and Yearwood is a junior-year sprinter, told the Associated Press on Sunday that she and the other girls stood no chance against the transgender speedsters.
“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.”
Yearwood acknowledged to The AP that she is stronger than many of her cisgender competitors. But she suggested that gender isn’t everything.
“One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” Yearwood 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.”
Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com. Seven states have restrictions on transgender athletes, and others have no clear policy.
The Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in Connecticut, has said that its liberal policy is dictated by a state anti-discrimination law requiring schools to treat students according to the gender they identity with.
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The debate over transgender athletes competing as women is not limited to high school. Different sports bodies have different rules.
Earlier this month, USA Powerlifting, a leading American powerlifting organization, outright banned all transgender competitors, saying male-to-female athletes have a biological advantage whereas female-to-male athletes have a hormonal one. The Olympic Committee lets transgender men can compete without restrictions, but requires transgender women to pass tests demonstrating that their testosterone levels do not exceed a certain level. The NCAA falls somewhere in between.
The varying standards reflect a national culture war over the issue. On one side, retired women’s tennis legend Martina Navratilova is among those who have pointed to research showing that trans athletes have a leg up when it comes to speed and power. On the other, transgender female cycling champion Rachel McKinnon has cited studies showing no relationship between testosterone levels and athletic performance.
McKinnon has also made the false that she is somehow a biological woman.
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