When allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports, the question always arises: Is it fair?
Some argue it's unfair for a man to be allowed to compete in a women's sporting event because male bodies are fundamentally different than female bodies.
At present, 17 states allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, which tracks state policies in high school sports across the country. Seven states have restrictions that make it difficult for transgender athletes to compete while in school, like requiring athletes to compete under the gender on their birth certificate or allowing them to participate only after going through sex-reassignment procedures or hormone therapies.
The other states either have no policy or handle the issue on a case-by-case basis, according to The Washington Times.
Recently, Terry Miller, a Connecticut high school transgender athlete transitioning to female, won the 55-meter dash at the state open indoor track championships, setting a new girl's indoor record. Andraya Yearwood, another transgender athlete, placed second in the race.
Selina Soule, an opponent sprinter, says fairness is the issue. She missed out on qualifying for the New England regionals and a chance to run in front of college coaches, because of Miller and Yearwood.
"We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it's demoralizing," she told The Times. "I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair."
The Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees high school sports in the Constitution State, says it must follow a state anti-discrimination law that says students must be treated in school by the gender with which they identify.
However, Joanna Harper, a medical physicist and transgender runner from Portland, Oregon, believes there needs to be a standard based on hormone levels.
Until hormone therapies begin to work, genetic males have a distinct advantage over genetic females, she in an interview with The Washington Times. Most transgender teens don't begin hormone therapy until after puberty. Younger teens can be on puberty-blocking drugs, but puberty is very individualized and testosterone levels can vary greatly from one transgender girl to another, she said.
"The gender identity doesn't matter, it's the testosterone levels," said Harper, who studies transgender athletes. "Trans girls should have the right to compete in sports. But cisgender girls should have the right to compete and succeed, too. How do you balance that? That's the question."
A group of parents aren't waiting for the debate and are seeking a change to the conference policy. John Forrest is one of those parents. His daughter is a teammate of Soule.
Forrest said they'd like to see the state adopt a hormone standard or allow transgender girls to run with other girls but have their results placed in a separate exhibition category.
But Glenn Lungarini, the conference's executive director told The Times the organization is not in a position to perform hormone testing of athletes and simply relies on the schools to tell them who identifies as male or female.
As CBN News reported, the fairness issue when it comes to transgender athletes competing against females has come up several times in several sports venues over the last two years. Last October, a biological man who identifies as a female won a women's world championship cycling event in California, sparking debate over how transgender athletes should be judged in sporting events.
In 2017, a boy who identifies as a girl won the girl's 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in state championships in Connecticut. Earlier that same year, a 17-year-old transgender boy won the Texas state girls' wrestling championship.
"It's not equal," one parent said. "It's never going to be equal."