The freshman year of high school is a crucial time of transition for all students and athletes. Moving from middle to high school brings numerous challenges that many young people are unable to handle.
Andraya Yearwood’s freshman year was more transitional than most. For Yearwood – who is in the process of transitioning from male to female – this spring marked her transition from competing with the boys to competing with the girls.
And a very successful spring it was. Yearwood enjoyed an undefeated season in the 100 meters for Connecticut’s Cromwell High School, then went on to capture the state title in Cromwell’s classification. She also won the state title in the 200-meter race.
Yearwood experienced her first defeat in the following week’s state open 100-meter race, finishing 2nd. She followed that up with a 2nd-place finish in the New England Track and Field Championships this past weekend.
Yearwood’s success prompted Hartford Courant reporter Jeff Jacobs to ask in his column, “Was it fair?”
In answering his own question, Jacobs goes on to essentially straddle the fence, finally reaching the conclusion that “the question of what constitutes fairness in the world of sports remains to be settled.”
In large part, he is correct. In fact, state, national, and worldwide regulating bodies have struggled with fairness long before transgenderism gained such a public presence. Leveling the playing field for athletes from schools, states, and nations of differing sizes and political/social/economic situations has always been a challenge and will likely continue to be for the long term.
The difference, of course, is in how those challenges have been and will be addressed.
State-level athletic associations are constantly addressing perceived inequities related to issues like school size, travel time, public vs. private vs. home schooling, attendance zones, high school recruiting, and ever-changing content standards. Each of those areas brings its own challenges related to ensuring competitive fairness to athletes, and each of those areas is constantly being reviewed and addressed by those state bodies.
But in the case of transgender athletes, state athletic associations have largely sidestepped the question of fairness. Those who have addressed it – whether taking the conservative or liberal side of the issue – have failed to follow up completely (Texas, for example), often leaving more questions than answers in the wake of their decisions.
The bottom line is that whether athletic associations wish to deal with it or not – athletes like Yearwood do have an unfair advantage. If you don’t believe that, take a look at the photo in the story at this link by The Day on Yearwood’s state wins. The other athlete in that photo is last year’s state champion, Kate Hall. That photo tells all that need be said about Yearwood’s advantage in the race. That Hall was able to finish so close is a testament to her training and determination.
In another Courant story, a teammate says that Yearwood “loves who she is and embraces it”. But the truth is that this young man – and make no mistake, we are talking about a young man here by every definition of the term which was in existence until just recently – this young man hates who he is and is rejecting it.
Respect for one’s self is the foundation of maturity. And though Yearwood is setting him/herself up to experience a lifetime without self-respect, Hall showed the grace of a true champion who respects not only herself but also those around her – whether they respect themselves or not.
“I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it … 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 … From what I know she [Yearwood] is really nice and that’s all that matters.”
It’s a great statement from an obviously mature and stable young woman dealing superbly with an inequity that for now only her generation has had to face.