In middle school, Andraya Yearwood ran for the boys track team. But things have changed now that she — who used to identify as he — is in high school.
Yearwood, a transgender freshman who was born a boy but identifies as a girl, recently joined the girls track team at Cromwell High School in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant reported Friday. Before moving to high school, Yearwood met with school officials to tell them she wanted to participate in sports with girls.
The school district, which supported Yearwood’s transition in late middle school, wanted to make sure the student athlete could do just that. She was a member of the cheerleading squad in the fall.
“Once we identified that she was transgender, a weight lifted off her shoulders,” Yearwood’s mother told the newspaper. “She’s been engaging in so many different things and so confident about what she is doing that she is almost a totally different person. And that’s what you want to see as a parent: a child that is confident and loves herself.”
So far, none of Yearwood’s fellow athletes have had any problems with the decision. And the coach, Brian Calhoun, said it’s just like having any other girl on the team — only Yearwood is very fast.
“She has just been a member of the team running hard day in and day out,” Calhoun said. “It has been like every other athlete. We have a girl on the team who runs pretty quickly. And I think the girls are pretty happy to have a girl on the team that runs pretty quickly.”
“It is going to be a positive thing for the whole team,” he added.
Last year, Yearwood’s time — 11.99 in the 100-meter dash — would have put her second in the State Open, just 0.1 seconds behind the first-place time. And Yearwood is expected to get faster.
“I know they’ll say it is unfair and not right, but my counter to that is: Why not?” the athlete’s mother said. “She is competing and practicing and giving her all and performing and excelling based on her skills. Let that be enough. Let her do that, and be proud of that.”
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference leaves handling cases like Yearwood’s up to the local school districts, according to the Courant:
The CIAC defers to the determination of the student and his or her local school regarding gender identification. According the CIAC handbook, it is fundamentally unjust and contrary to applicable state and federal law to preclude a student from participation on a gender specific sports team that is consistent with the public gender identity of that student.
On Wednesday, Yearwood said it felt right to be a member of the girls team.
“I didn’t want to live my whole life hiding myself from my family and other people,” the transgender athlete said.
“It was heartwarming and pretty exciting to see that other people were using [my name],” Yearwood continued. “This being my first meet as a transgender woman at the school, to me it felt like there was a little extra pressure to show my best and not let everyone down.”
Yearwood is at the beginning stages of sex reassignment surgery. The next step is to begin taking puberty blockers and, in the future, hormone blockers.
A situation similar to Yearwood’s unfolded in February in a Texas high school, where 17-year-old Mack Beggs, a transgender student who identifies as a male, competed against girls for an entire season.
Beggs went on to win the state’s championship wrestling title in the girls division in February. Beggs’ success sparked quite a bit of controversy because the female-to-male student was undergoing testosterone treatment to become a boy while competitions were ongoing.
While the Texas Education Code and University Interscholastic League rules bar steroid use, the regulations do have a “safe haven” provision allowing them if “dispensed, prescribed, delivered, and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”