High School Track Stars Targeted In Complaint About Inclusion Of Trans Athletes In Competitions

Three Connecticut athletes have filed a federal complaint disputing the state's policy on allowing transgender athletes to participate.

Photo credit:Screenshot/YouTube

| June 25 2019,

5:21 pm

Soule and Stanescu have been on a warpath for nearly a year since the Glastonbury High senior finished 6th place in a race won by Black trans teenager Andraya Yearwood.

The two have gone on a tour of TV appearances saying the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's rule allowing trans athletes to compete against the gender they identify with is discriminatory against cisgender women.

Now, they have secured the backing of right-wing Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom to file a complaint with the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights. The complaint says Connecticut is violating federal Title IX rules by allowing Yearwood and Terry Miller to compete in races.

For the last two years, Black trans high school students, Yearwood and Miller, have done well in the state's track and field competitions. Their wins in the 100 and 200 yard dash drew immense scrutiny last June and the pair immediately faced a torrent of transphobia from members of the public and the media.

Both Yearwood and Miller have undergone hormone replacement therapy but that isn't been enough for Stanescu, who told ABC that she wants the girls to race separately from cisgender women.

"Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood should have been able to celebrate winning first and second place respectively in their state indoor-track championships," the ACLU wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

"Instead they were put on the defensive about their right to compete at all."

Last year, Stanescu tried to force the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to change its rule and ban trans athletes from competing against the gender they identify with unless they are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. She made no headway and decided to sue the conference instead.

In a statement to the Hartford Courant on Tuesday, CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said they were not worried about the complaint because they had worked with the Office of Civil Rights in Boston and Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to craft the regulations and make sure they complied with Title IX.

“The CIAC is committed to equity in providing opportunities to student athletes in Connecticut. We take such matters seriously, and we believe that the current CIAC policy is appropriate under both Connecticut law and Title IX,” Lungarini said.

Yearwood and Miller finished first and second in multiple races in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Miller is the record-holder for Connecticut's outdoor track times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. At races, parents repeatedly shout transphobic slurs. The CIAC has had to hire officials to protect Yearwood and Miller after their races.

Rahsaan Yearwood, Andraya's father, told The Courant that the complaint's insistence that his daughter's participation was costing girls' scholarship opportunities was faulty reasoning. 

“I’m not 100% sure how colleges recruit track athletes, but my understanding is that they recruit based on times," he said.

"If you don’t have college qualifying times, then colleges aren’t going to offer you a scholarship.”

According to CBS News, 17 states including Connecticut allow transgender high school athletes to compete without any restrictions. Meanwhile, other states have passed rules in the opposite direction, forcing students to compete against the gender they were assigned at birth. A number of states have no rules regarding trans athletes. However, the NCAA forces trans women to undergo hormone replacement therapy before competing against cis women athletes. 

The issue has been discussed widely due to the international debate over South African Olympian Caster Semenya. On Monday, a Swiss Supreme Court ruled in her favor against the international governing body of track and field, which tried to pass rules forcing female runners to take medical measures to reduce the amount of testosterone in their body.