Father of transgender student athlete pushes back against petition to change competition policy

CROMWELL -- The Connecticut father of a transgender student, who is one of the athletes at the center of a debate over competitions, is speaking out against some parents who question a state law that allows transgender athletes to compete with members of the gender they identify with.

“My daughter is a trans-female, said Rahsaan Yearwood. “That means she needs to compete on girl’s teams in order to feel most comfortable.”

Yearwood’s transgender daughter, Andraya Yearwood, was born a boy.

Andraya competes on the Cromwell High School girls track team. Some parents, including Bianca Stanescu, believe transgender students have an unfair physical advantage.

Her daughter, Selina Soule, finished sixth in the 100 meter at the girl's state championship.

Soule came in behind Andraya, who came placed second and another transgender student who placed first.

"Because it's a male over a female,” Stanescu. “The gender segregation was set up many, many, many decades ago I mean probably even going back to the Olympics. You didn't see any females running against males."

Stanescu has started a petition to ban transgender students from competing on sports teams of the gender they identify as.

However, Yearwood is pushing back.

He insists this isn’t about competition for Andraya.

“She’s running because she wants to be part of a team,” Yearwood said. “And we all understand the benefits of being part of a team at this age. You know, comradery. Perseverance, grit, teamwork.”

Yearwood points out that under state law, once a student athlete begins the gender reassignment process, the school then requires them to compete with the gender they identify with.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which governs high school sports, follows the state statute.

Executive Director Dr. Karissa Niehoff said changing the policy could violate civil rights.

“At this point we have plans to change our policies,” Niehoff said. “Not only is our transgender policy in alignment with state statue, the anti-discrimination law that identifies gender as being consistent with gender identity."

A study by UConn and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation finds an overwhelming number of LGBTQ student athletes remain in the closet out of fear of discrimination from coaches and teammates.

“My job is to raise a healthy child,” Yearwood said. “And we all know that being a part of groups and being included allows students to develop in a healthier way than when you’re excluded.”

The CIAC said they do not plan to change their policy.

Yearwood said he is willing to meet with parents who want to ban his daughter from competing with girls.