High school runners went toe to toe this weekend at the New England Regional Championships in Boston.
A chance to get in front of college coaches and maybe even earn a scholarship but Connecticut junior Selina Soule won’t be competing in the 55-meter dash.
She was edged out of the top six spots in part by two transgender runners: Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller.
Both male at birth, now identifying as female.
Terry set a girls state indoor record, Andraya came in second.
Soule says, “It’s frustrating and in a way demoralizing when you’re at the start line of a race and you know what the outcome of the race is before it even happens.”
Medical physicist Joanna Harper, who is also a transgender runner, says high school athletes like Selina can face unfair competition from trans girls.
It comes down to whether trans athletes have undergone hormone therapy.
Harper says, “Before, uh, these athletes get on hormones then they have all of the athletic capabilities of men.”
But high school athletics aren’t governed by a single set of rules making regional competitions a grey area.
According to transathlete.com Connecticut is one of 18 states that allow transgender athletes to compete without restrictions.
17 states review individuals case by case and 9 states require surgery or hormone treatment.
Six states have no policy at all.
Part of the challenge is age.
College students and Olympians must undergo a year of hormone therapy to compete as trans athletes but most teens don’t begin hormone therapy until after puberty.
Civil rights are also a concern.
Hudson Taylor is the founder of Athlete Ally, a nonprofit LGBTQ Athletic Advocacy Group.
Taylor says, “Any pathway that separates or divides or segregates trans athletes into a different category is separate and is not equal and it is not fair.”
Advocates say rules for pro athletes are one thing but a lot of high schoolers join teams to have fun and transgender teens shouldn’t be denied those same positive experiences.