The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
The federal Department of Education recently made a controversial ruling saying transgender high school athletes in Connecticut who competed on boys' teams cannot switch to girls’ sports. The feds say that deprives girls of athletic opportunities guaranteed under civil rights law. It’s a national debate that's forged some unexpected alliances. Today we tackle the transgender divide in sports.
Sharyl: We were there last February, when the high school athletes lined up in New Haven, Connecticut for the 55 meter dash at the state track and field championships.
(video shows footage of dash at state track and field championships)
Chelsea Mitchell, the blonde with a red shirt in the middle was positioned next to Terry Miller, orange top, blue shorts, who ran on the boys’ team until about three years ago.
Same with Andraya Yearwood. In 2018, months after both athletes switched over from the boys’ team, they dominated the girls’ state championships, placing first and second. Together, they’ve won 15 state championship races since 2017.
(video shows interview with Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood)
Here they’re speaking to ABC.
ABC Correspondent: At what point do you decide actually it’s more appropriate for me to be on the girls team and competing with other girls?
Andraya Yearwood: I decided the summer before 9th Grade
Sharyl: But what some see as an important step forward for transgender athletes, others see as infringing upon the rights of non-transgender girls.
Sharyl: Have all of you lost races and competitions to biological males?
Selena Soule: Yes. We all have.
Sharyl: How many races?
Soule: Too many to count.
Sharyl: Chelsea Mitchell is one of the fastest sprinters in the country.
(video shows footage of Chelsea running in race)
She’s shown here in 2018, losing the 55 meter dash to Miller in red on one side, and Yearwood on the other.
The next year, Mitchell again loses to Miller in orange, and Yearwood to the left.
Chelsea Mitchell: It's been very unfair for me and the other girl competitors to race against them. I personally lost four state championships to all New England awards and countless other opportunities because of it.
Sharyl: Mitchell, and two other athletes, Alana Smith, and Selena Soule, have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Connecticut policy that lets students switch from the boys’ team to the girls’ team without surgery or hormone treatments.
Alana Smith: I would say that it's unfair that us biological females have drawn against biological males, and that we really just want fairness in our sport and we just want change to happen.
Soule: I agree with Alana that, right now, the current Connecticut policy for athletics is that biological males can compete in with the girls with no hormone therapy needed. And we personally don't think that's fair, and we know that girls are missing out on opportunities to be able to advance and succeed and get titles.
Soule: We fully support these athletes and in the way that they choose to identify themselves. But athletics have separate rules because it's about your physical,physical advantages and your physical differences.
Sharyl: It’s become a national conversation.
Last year (2019), CeCe Telfer, raised as Craig Telfer, became the first known transgender to win a women’s college track and field championship.
Schulyer Bailer was recruited to swim on the women’s team at Harvard but ended up deciding to compete on the men’s team, the first transgender athlete to compete at the highest level of sports, division one.
Earlier this year, (Feb. 2020) Megan Youngren didn’t run fast enough, in the end, to qualify but was the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the U.S. Olympic team trials, choosing to enter the women’s field.
And in New Zealand, Gavin Hubbard, who was a men’s weightlifting competitor, became Laurel Hubbard and dominated the women’s competition.
Last year (2019), the adult cartoon South Park featured an episode called “Board Girls.” It lampooned the controversial notion of athletes switching from the men’s field to women’s.
South Park clip: Miss Swanson, how does it feel to be competing today?
I can’t tell you how free I feel now that I’ve started identifying as a woman.
Further complicating the debate, some feminist allies normally counted on to support gay and transgender rights are coming down on the other side when it comes to sports.
Tennis icon, Martina Navratilova is outspoken, saying transgenders are robbing women of hard fought opportunities, and threatening women’s sports as we know them.
Martina Navratilova: It’s always been about fairness in sport. We cannot have sympathy and empathy for transgender on a smaller level, sport level, trump for lack of a better word, or overtake fairness for women and girls.
Christiana Holcomb: This is absolutely not a partisan issue and I think that's playing out when you see radical leftist feminists as they identify linking arms with conservative feminist organizations saying, ‘No, this is not fair.
Sharyl: Christiana Holcomb is with the conservative Christian nonprofit representing Mitchell, Smith and Soule: Alliance Defending Freedom.
Holcomb: There was a study done that came out of Sweden just last fall that indicated that males generally have a 10 to 20% performance advantage over similarly fit and trained biological females. And those advantages are not undone by any length of hormone treatment or hormone replacement therapy. So even even if it did, frankly, you would still have a male displacing a deserving young woman in her own athletic competition, something set aside for her benefit and to allow her to compete for college scholarships, so it still wouldn't be fair.
Sharyl: We asked for interviews with Miller and Yearwood, but neither wanted to speak with us.
Instead, we talked to Asaf Orr of the transgender youth project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which says transgenders should compete wherever they wish.
Asaf Orr: In sports, there's always a competitive advantage of some sort, right? Someone got to train longer, trained harder or has some inherent athletic abilities that other athletes don't have. And so really it's sort of focusing on the fact that these transgenders, our student athletes, they really just want to compete.
Sharyl: If I'm describing it correctly, a man, or someone who has always been considered a man, including maybe himself considering himself a man, could wake up one morning and technically say, “Today, I compete as a woman,” and do that, and then say the next day, “I compete as a man again.”
Orr: And I think that's a misconception of these policies is that it's not that it's not that easy and nor does that happen. As is often the case with transgender people, they recognize their gender identity, usually for years prior to them coming out, because of various social pressures or other things that kind of delays them from doing that. So this is not a situation where someone wakes up one morning and says, “Oh, I'm really woman, I'm just going to go compete on a women's sports.”
Sharyl: With resentment building on both sides, there’s a confounding array of policies.
9 states require high school transgenders to have surgery or extensive hormone treatment to compete on the opposite-sex team.
In March, Idaho became the first state to bar transgender girls from participating in girls’ and women’s sports.
18 states and Washington, D.C. allow transgenders to join either team without hormones or surgery.
16 states are somewhere in between.
and 6 states have no explicit policy.
Connecticut athletic authorities say: “Connecticut law is clear and students who identify as female are to be recognized as female for all purposes, including high school sports.”
How did that race we saw in Connecticut last February turn out, after Mitchell had lost to Miller two years straight?
This time, Mitchell wins. Some say that proves transgender athletes do not have an unfair advantage.
Sharyl (on camera): On the other hand, critics say whether a transgender athlete takes first, second or third place, it’s taking a spot from someone else who would have had it.
I watched this Sunday’s episode that started with the transgender athletes. Not wishing to take anything away from Mitchel, it is my belief that Miller threw the race in order to “prove” that transgender athletes don’t have an unfair advantage, knowing that this race would be covered on Full Measure.
So, Miller "let" Mitchell win so she'd quit whining about it? Now, that's believable AND
a typical "macho man" move. How quaint...
Kim P says
There are multiple issues with this story. #1 a transgender student athlete should not be competing unless they’re undergoing hormone replacement therapy. The closer to puberty one transitions the less advantage they have.
#2 what benefit does race have in this story? Black athletes dominate track & field, and professional sports, especially in running. Of course this does not apply to “all” black athletes, but it is worth noting.
#3 I do not agree with transgender adults competing in women’s sports when they transition later in life/adulthood. Puberty has already had an irreversible impact on their bodies.
BTW, I’m just about as pro transgender as a person can be. The situation will only improve if there is compromise, understanding & acceptance on BOTH sides.
Roger German says
Studies have shown 85% - 90% of children who had transgender feelings, over time, spontaneously lose those feelings. No one is discriminated against; when they get to do what’s appropriate for their biological sex. The best thing society can do for the gender confused is to help them deal with their biological reality, not grant an acceptance of their confused thinking.
Frank W. Russell says
The whole subject is a hoax. One can have all the operations adding or subtracting body parts and fluids; but, the person remains the same sex that they are. A male can not be changed into a female; nor can a female be changed into a male. It is biologically impossible. The male and female skeletons are different from each other. Even their skulls are different. Think of the person instead of the "agenda". Consider the suicide rate for individuals who try the change, only to find out that they (or whoever convinced them to do it) made a mistake. But to those on the Left; the agenda is all that matters.
israelis putting estrogen/soy in all the food = man-boobies
Dwain Dibley says
Why do you keep indulging narcissistic mental derangement?
Sexually deviant predilections are not genders.
Kenneth P. Bradley says
It was nice to see a few months ago one of the 3 young ladies competed I believe in the State finals and won the race.
And as it goes my Ex left me about 20 years ago because she "could no longer be happy as a heterosexual. And then about 6 or so years later she had the full sexual transition. I would go to pick up my son for custody weekends and I found out she was "transitioning" in PA. They require 2 years of hormonal treatment. She always had gallons of what looked like grape kool-aid, talk about "drinking the kool aid". She went to Serbia for the full "reassignment" and now he will still have to drink the kool aid for the rest of his life. There was nothing that she was born with. This was all psychological. She had many issues in her life before she did this and I imagine he still has them.
Actual female athletes competing against so-called 'trans-women' (i.e., men) should sue them for civil fraud, and let a jury decide if they're women or not.
Criteria could include historical (gender recorded at birth), anatomical, chromosomal, and hormonal considerations.
There is no obvious or observable physical difference between these athletes (except perhaps race). This is borne out by the fact that Sharyl has to point out who the trans athletes are. Otherwise we couldn't tell. This undermines the claim that there is a biological advantage. Except in contact sports, muscle mass and bone length do not automatically equal performance advantage