Transgender Policy Questioned

June 7, 2018

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's policy to allow athletes to compete as the gender they identify as has resulted in some controversy, including petitions to change the rule.

According to the Hartford Courant, CIAC policy follows the state statute, which defines one's gender based on gender identity and not biological sex, as long as the gender identity is verified, and not used to gain an unfair advantage in sports.

Bianca Stanescu, whose daughter, Selina Soule, is a sprinter for Glastonbury High School, has circulated a petition asking the state legislature to only allow athletes to compete as the gender they were born as, unless they have undergone hormone therapy.

“I think it’s unfair to the girls who work really hard to do well and qualify for Opens and New Englands,” Soule said. “These girls, they’re just coming in and beating everyone. I have no problem with them wanting to be a girl.”

Betty Remigino-Knapp, assistant track coach at Hall High School, said cisgender females were at a disadvantage against transgender runners.

“I have great empathy for all transgender kids,” Remigino-Knapp said. “I don’t object to it morally at all. I think the issue at hand is the inequity — if you are a biological male you have an advantage because of testosterone. It’s a proven medical fact. I think our female student-athletes and our coaches feel there’s no longer a level playing field.”

Erin Buzuvis, a law professor and director of Western New England College's Center of Gender and Sexuality Studies, stressed the importance of including transgender athletes.

“A transgender girl is a girl and ought to be treated like a girl,” Buzuvis said. “If you start to put limitations or exclusions on their participation, not only do you run the risk of violating state anti-discrimination law, but also you are disregarding and disrespecting a population of students based on a core aspect of their identity, which is something that schools should not be in the practice of doing."

Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the CIAC, described the issue as “very complex,” especially considering that children were involved.

“When you get into the NCAA, there are scholarships,” Niehoff said. “It’s a more high stakes game. The kids are 18 and older; they’re adults and it’s a different conversation. But with high school students, we’re trying to protect them and all of their civil rights.”

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