Three teen track and field runners in Connecticut have filed a lawsuit against the state over its trans-inclusive athletics policy for teens.
According to CBS News, Connecticut’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which presides over high school-level sports, follows the state’s nondiscrimination statures and allows transgender athletes to compete as the gender they identify with, not the gender they were assigned at birth. However, a group of cisgender track and field runners have taken issue with this inclusive policy, arguing that competing against trans women athletes has robbed them of awards, titles, or scholarships they would have otherwise earned.
The three athletes filed a legal complaint earlier this week with the support of the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), citing federal Title IX rules, which aim for equal rights in sports for female athletes.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for ADF, told CBS. “Women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides.”
Holcomb went on to misgender trans student athletes in her statement, adding that “allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women,” and that young cis women shouldn’t “be spectators in their own sports.”
The debate about inherent “advantages” of trans women competing against cis women in sports isn’t new. Earlier this year, lesbian tennis legend Martina Navratilova penned a controversial op-ed for a London newspaper, in which she claimed that allowing trans women to compete alongside cis athletes was “cheating and unfair.” Whether or not Navratilova’s claims have any merit, her words did have potentially serious implications for trans and gender nonconforming people: That same op-ed was cited just weeks later in court by Republican congress members seeking to limit equal rights for transgender Americans.
Two of the trans student athletes cited in the Connecticut lawsuit, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, have won multiple athletics titles and spoken openly about their trans identities. (They’re no strangers to controversy, and both were featured in an Associated Press report this March about the trials they’ve endured on and off the field.)
Yearwood (pictured above) was also featured in the documentary Changing the Game, which followed three transgender high school athletes and premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
This week, Yearwood’s father, Rashaan Yearwood, told The Hartford Courant that “it’s disappointing that, in 2019, we’re still debating who gets to participate and who doesn’t.”
“You would hope we’d gotten to a place in 300-plus years as a country that we’re not debating who should be included, and who should not be,” Rashan added. “There is no place for exclusion.”