Skip to main content

Notebook Sports

Boys against girls

Andraya Yearwood wins the 200-meter dash at Connecticut’s state track meet for mid-sized schools in May. (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant)

Sports

Boys against girls

Transgender victories raise questions of fairness in girls’ sports

Transgender athletes are beginning to displace biological girls as state champions—or at least coming close—in high-school girls’ sports.

Two transgender athletes, runner Andraya Yearwood of Connecticut and wrestler Mack Beggs of Texas, garnered national attention after capturing state titles in 2017. A third, Nattaphon Wangyot, placed among the top five in two girls’ races at Alaska’s 2016 state track and field meet.

Most state athletic associations strive to accommodate transgender athletes in some way, and some states’ laws require it. Still, many have yet to figure out how to do that while ensuring that competition remains fair for biologically female athletes.

Connecticut’s is among them. Yearwood, a biologically male sprinter who has competed as a girl since April, won the girls’ 100- and 200-meter titles at Connecticut’s state track meet for mid-sized schools in late May. Yearwood’s times would have placed him last in the boys’ 100 and 200.

Yearwood did not undergo hormone therapy to compete as a girl, and did not have to: Connecticut’s governing body for high-school sports, like Alaska’s, lets individual school districts decide who can compete as male and female. Should Yearwood, a freshman, not begin transitioning—and thereby suppressing bodily testosterone levels—he will likely win more girls’ state titles as he becomes taller, stronger, and presumably faster.

There is some logic behind not requiring young transgender athletes to undergo hormone treatments: “We feel like students shouldn’t have to transition until they’re postadolescent,” explained Billy Strickland, the Alaska State Activities Association’s executive director: “We don’t want to force someone into a lifelong medical decision when they’re 14 years old.”

Transgender athletes’ feelings, however, should not be the sole determining factor in their gender classifications. Ohio, for instance, requires boys who have not undergone hormone treatments but wish to play on girls’ teams to prove, via medical evidence, that they do not possess significant physical advantages over similarly aged biological girls. Maine has an approval process that considers competitive balance and safety for other student athletes, and Oregon requires girls who begin transitioning to compete exclusively as boys throughout high school.

Maintaining fairness in girls’ sports while respecting transgender athletes’ dignity is thus a balance that state governing bodies can and should strike. Otherwise, states’ girls’ champions will more frequently be boys.

—Ray Hacke is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute mid-career course

Associated Press/Photo by Vincent Thian

Margaret Court (Associated Press/Photo by Vincent Thian)

Court battle

In response to Australian tennis legend Margaret Court’s vocal opposition to same-sex marriage, some of the sport’s past and present stars are demanding that the Australian Open no longer have a court named after Margaret.

Court, a 74-year-old pastor, won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the 1960s and ’70s. Australian Open officials honored her achievements in 2003 by rechristening one of its showcase stadiums Margaret Court Arena.

Court has spoken out against same-sex marriage since 2012. However, some of tennis’s other big names volleyed back in the wake of Court’s statement in late May that she would boycott Qantas, Australia’s national airline, due to its support of same-sex marriage. Retired women’s great Martina Navratilova, who is gay, and reigning Wimbledon men’s champion Andy Murray have both called on Aussie Open officials to rename the arena that bears Court’s name.

Another tennis legend, John McEnroe, proposed a trade-off: “Keep the name, and when same-sex marriage becomes legal in Australia, I will personally call my good friend Elton John to host the biggest same-sex mass wedding ceremony ever seen in Margaret Court Arena.” —R.H.

Comments

You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • PaulC
    Posted: Sat, 06/24/2017 06:59 am

    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.  Isaiah 5:20   The day of reckoning is coming.  As one father taught his son:  Payday someday. 

  • MTJanet
    Posted: Sat, 06/24/2017 10:45 am

    I am amazed that the sports world has capitulated to feelings.  It should be an easy call to maintain that all biological athletes compete with like kind, and that those who are on hormones are disqualified.  If this is continued, it will just be a matter of time before we completely lose interest in who came in first or last due to the lack of overall fairness.  The Olympics will become a circus.  And an uninteresting one at that.   

  • Anonymous
    Posted: Sat, 06/24/2017 12:46 pm

    What if they were to have separate competitions for transgender individuals, like they do the Paralympic Games?

  • Laneygirl's picture
    Laneygirl
    Posted: Sat, 06/24/2017 02:37 pm

    We predicted the end of student athletics as we know it when the first girl "broke the barrier" and made the football team. Feministic America rejoiced, but we did not. Turnabout was not fair play, since no boy ever put on a skirt and tried out for the girls field-hockey team.  

    Now, just "identify" as a girl and you can win state titles. Meaningless, cried Solomon.

     

  •  Xion's picture
    Xion
    Posted: Sat, 06/24/2017 07:13 pm

    "Claiming to be wise, they became fools ..."  Anyone with a Y chromosome is a boy.  It is amazing how anti-science the liberal agenda is.