Andraya Yearwood, a 17-year-old junior at Cromwell High School, is one of two transgender high school sprinters in Connecticut that topped the champsionships. Finishing second in the 55-meter dash at the state open indoor track championships, the first place position was won by Terry Miller, who is also transgender and set a girls state indoor record of 6.95 seconds. Yearwood finished in 7.01 seconds whereas the third-place competitor, who is not transgender, finished in 7.23 seconds.
Critics have said that their status as biological males gives them an unfair advantage over other female runners. Martina Navratilova, a professional tennis player, has spoken out against this. “A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires,” Navratilova wrote last February at The Sunday Times of London. “It’s insane and it’s cheating.”
Yearwood is unfazed by the criticisms. “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 American states that permit transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions in the gender category of their choice. Seven states conversely have limitations, such as 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 Washington Times reports that while Yearwood "acknowledges she is stronger than many of her cisgender competitors, she 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.”
Many parents are seeking a change to Connecticut’s state policy in this regard.