Andrya and Terry: Racism and Transphobia in Sports

To paraphrase Malcolm X, the most disrespected person in America is a black woman.

Throughout history, black women have endured the oppressive intersecting systems of racism and sexism or as scholar Moya Bailey put it misogynoir.

That has found its way into the sports world.

Take the treatment of Venus and Serena Williams for example.

Everything from their style of play, their fashion choices, their hairstyles, and their bodies have all been objectified, sexualized, and brutalized by media and spectators rooted in a deep-seated disgust as well as hatred towards black women.

Racialized sexism in full swing.

Now enter in Andrya Yearwood and Terry Miller, two black transgender female track stars from Connecticut.

Image result for andraya yearwood terry miller

(Courtesy: The Advocate)

Both have won accolades at the state level and have opened doors for other transgender athletes to showcase their talents.

Sadly both girls are now subjected to a federal lawsuit from their white and cisgender competitors alleging that they should not compete with other girls due to an “unfair advantage”.

Various organizations that have been labeled hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center have attached themselves to this lawsuit.

The whole argument is rooted in pseudoscience and pure transphobia.

The fact of the matter is that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that transgender athletes have a greater advantage in terms of athletic ability compared to cisgender athletes.

This is using outdated gender stereotypes.

Trans athletes are as diverse as anyone else.

Abilities and skills vary.

You can’t get any more fundamental than that.

It is hilariously ironic that these groups are now taking on the cause for “championing” women’s sports by denying other women to play sports.

There is plenty of doubt that they have even attended a women’s sporting event or followed female athletes in recent memory.

If they were truly committed to women’s sports, they would support every woman’s right to play and for equity in the amount of funding afforded to women’s sports programs that are required of educational institutions by Title IX.

They would passionate fans and spectators at WNBA, NSWL, and NCAA games.

The treatment of Andrya and Terry has an additional layer to it because of race.

Andrya and Terry are two black trans women existing and succeeding in the world of sports as well as being in the very state of Connecticut

They are in the public eye at a time of great vulnerability and hardship as well as increased visibility for the transgender community.

We cannot afford to let issues of discrimination and violence fall by the wayside.

Right now, there is a full-on crisis of black trans women being murdered with impunity and rights and protections are being rolled back.

Lawmakers in various states are introducing laws to deny trans people the ability to participate in sports.

All in the attempt to erase trans peoples’ existence.

The good news is trans athletes and public figures such as Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Andrea Jenkins, CeCe Telfer, Chris Moiser, JayCee Cooper, Kye Allums, Patricio Manuel, Fallon Fax, Lauren Hubbard, Kayla Autumn Ward, and others are making it clear that the trans community is here to stay.

Andrya and Terry’s visibility is saving lives and even in the midst of all this, they remain resilient and standing their ground.

Their courage was awarded by Athlete Ally this past year.

(Courtesy: Youtube)

The same tiresome racist and sexist diatribes mirror to what Venus and Serena have encountered.

Let’s not forget that Venus and Serena’s abilities and their womanhood were being called into question and there were many transphobic elements to it.

For so long, black women have been portrayed in animalistic and degrading ways and characterized as unwomanly and not fitting into the traditional white eurocentric standards of beauty in the public vision.

But black women are making their voices heard and demanding respect and dignity for who they are, in politics, at Coachella, at Buckingham Palace, in law, in education, in science, in medicine, in the arts, and yes in sports.

Much like Venus and Serena, Andrya and Terry will triumph over white supremacist patriarchy.

The question becomes will the real allies please stand up, please stand up, please stand up?

Justice for Andrya and Terry.

Zachary Draves
About Zachary Draves 105 Articles
Violence Prevention Educator, Activist, MSW Student at Aurora University, Adjunct Professor of Social Justice and Civic Engagement at Dominican University, Aspiring Filmmaker, Alliance for Social Workers in Sports, You Can Play Project Ambassador, Co-Founder of West Chicago Suburbs Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Co-Founder of Racial and Gender Justice in Sports Project, Organizing White Men For Collective Liberation (OWMCL)

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