Top-Ranked NCAA Women’s Runner Competed As Man Last Year

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A top-ranked runner in NCAA women’s track is dominating the competition and setting records one year after competing as a man at the same level.

  • One of the fastest sprinters in NCAA women’s track is a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman.
  • Franklin Pierce University runner CeCe Telfer competed on the men’s track team in early 2018 before switching to the women’s team.
  • Telfer has dominated the NCAA Division II competition and led the women’s team into the top 25 for the first time ever.

Franklin Pierce University senior CeCe Telfer leads the NCAA’s Division II women’s division in the 55 meter dash and 55 meter hurdle events. Telfer led Franklin Pierce’s women’s track team into the top 25 rankings for the first time in program’s history, local newspaper The Keene Sentinel reported in December. The New Hampshire college is ranked 14th in DII.

“Senior CeCe Telfer (Lebanon, N.H.) won three Northeast-10 Conference titles on Sunday, to lead the Franklin Pierce University women’s track & field team and earn Most Outstanding Track Athlete honors at the NE10 Championships, hosted by American International College, on the campus of Smith College,” reads a Feb. 17 article the school’s athletic department posted.

Telfer broke the conference finals record at the meet and qualified for three different events at March’s NCAA championships, the article noted.

Telfer is one of the fastest runners in NCAA women’s track and field at any division — not just at the DII level. Telfer’s best time in the 55 meter dash is tied with the third-fastest runner at the women’s DI level.

Telfer previously ran a variety of events for Franklin Pierce’s men’s team, during most of which time he went by the first name Craig, according to school records.

Telfer competed on Franklin Pierce’s men’s team as recently as January 2018, according to published meet results from the Middlebury Winter Classic in Vermont. By that point Telfer had started using the name CeCe, while still competing on the men’s team.

NCAA policy is that male athletes who identify as transgender can compete on women’s teams if they suppress their testosterone levels for a full calendar year. Otherwise, so-called mixed teams — which have both males and females — can compete in the men’s division, but not in the women’s division, according to NCAA rules.

The NCAA in 2011 published an explainer calling it “not well founded” to assume “that being born with a male body automatically gives a transgender woman an unfair advantage when competing against non-transgender women.”

“Transgender women display a great deal of physical variation, just as there is a great deal of natural variation in physical size and ability among non-transgender women and men. Many people may have a stereotype that all transgender women are unusually tall and have large bones and muscles. But that is not true,” the explainer states.

“A male-to-female transgender woman may be small and slight, even if she is not on hormone blockers or taking estrogen. It is important not to overgeneralize. The assumption that all male-bodied people are taller, stronger, and more highly skilled in a sport than all female-bodied people is not accurate,” it continues.

Telfer’s success in the women’s division, which was first highlighted by sports blog Turtleboy Sports, is the latest example of biological males who identify as transgender women piling up victories in women’s sports.

Two biologically male high schoolers in Connecticut, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, are dominating girls’ track in the state. The two teens are among the fastest high school sprinters in the country — though only in the girl’s division.

One of Miller’s and Yearwood’s female competitors, fellow junior Selina Soule, told the Associated Press that it was unfair to force female high schoolers to compete against male athletes.

“We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing,” Soule said. “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,” she added.

One of the top scorers for Australia’s women’s handball team is Hannah Mouncey, who played for the Australian men’s handball team before transitioning. Mouncey played women’s Australian rules football between transitioning and switching to women’s handball.

Mouncey was banned from the women’s division of the Australian Football League’s women’s division in October 2017 before receiving approval to play  in February 2018.

Rachel McKinnon, a biologically male college professor who identifies as a transgender woman, won a women’s cycling world championship in October. McKinnon won the women’s sprint 35-39 age bracket at the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles.

McKinnon in January 2018 was quoted in USA Today arguing against requiring biological males to suppress testosterone as a requirement for competing against women.

“We cannot have a woman legally recognized as a trans woman in society, and not be recognized that way in sports,” McKinnon told USA Today. “Focusing on performance advantage is largely irrelevant because this is a rights issue. We shouldn’t be worried about trans people taking over the Olympics. We should be worried about their fairness and human rights instead.”

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar called for an investigation into USA Powerlifting in January after the athletic association announced that male lifters who identify as transgender women aren’t allowed to compete as women.

Omar called it a “myth” that men who identify as transgender women have a “direct competitive advantage” in a Jan. 31 letter she sent to USA Powerlifting on behalf of Jaycee Cooper, a male powerlifter in Omar’s district who identifies as a transgender woman.

Omar copied Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on the letter, “with a recommendation that he investigate this discriminatory behavior.”

Ellison said his office didn’t have the jurisdiction to investigate USA Powerlifting, but recommended that Cooper “file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.”

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