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Transgender high school 100m runner facing scrutiny for competing as a girl

Andraya Yearwood is a 17-year-old sprinter from Cromwell, Connecticut who's advocating for transgender rights in sport

Andraya Yearwood is a 100m runner who’s also a transgender girl. The Cromwell, Connecticut native is in her third year competing for Cromwell High School, but her track and field performances have upset some members of the running community, who claim that Yearwood has an unfair advantage in competition and shouldn’t be allowed to compete. Yearwood reportedly changed her name and pronouns with the school district before her freshman year, which allows her to compete as a girl.

RELATED: U Sports approves transgender student-athlete policy

Yearwood told the Bleecher Report on Monday, “Because they don’t want me to run, I have to run harder,” she says. “I want to go to nationals in order to prove them wrong, to be like, You guys don’t want me to run? But look, I qualified for nationals.”

In America, the rules on transgender competition vary by state, and in Connecticut, Yearwood is allowed to compete as a woman. Yearwood describes to the Bleecher Report being yelled at during track meets. One spectator said, “He shouldn’t be running.” The sprinter has a personal best of 12.17 in the outdoor 100m, and has run a 25.33 over 200m. She finished second in the state open in 2018 with a time of 12.29. Yearwood’s story has gained international attention, and she recently spoke at Harvard on a panel called “The Intersection of Gender Identity, Race and Student Support.” She was there to advocate for transgender individuals. 

If Yearwood wishes to continue running in college, she is not eligible to compete on the women’s team without one calendar year of testosterone suppression medication or surgical intervention. According to the NCAA handbook, “A transgender female (male to female) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication, or who has undergone surgical intervention to suppress testosterone production, for gender transition, may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed-team status until completing one calendar year of documented testosterone-suppression treatment or one-year post-surgical intervention.”

In Canada, the U Sports transgender policy was updated in 2018. Their policy allows student-athletes to compete on the team corresponding to either their gender at birth or the gender they identify as, provided they comply with the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. They are still eligible to participate in U Sports for five years, and they may only compete on sport teams of one gender during any single academic year.