Transgender Runner in Maine Goes from 172nd Place Against Boys to 4th Place Against Girls
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A transgender high school sophomore in Maine is facing backlash for dominating girls cross-country after competing just last year in the sport as a boy and only placing 172nd in the district.
Soren Stark-Chessa, a student at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport, was ranked 172nd in the district as a freshman in the boy's competition, the Daily Mail reports.
But last year, Stark-Chessa transitioned and is now beating most of the girls, ranking as the 4th-best athlete among the girls in the sport.
Stark-Chessa competed in the Maine XC Festival of Champions in Belfast last Saturday and finished fifth.
The trans runner sprinted to the finish with a time of 5:51:3. One person yelled "Way to cheat, bro!" as he crossed the finish line, according to the outlet.
To qualify for the festival, Stark-Chessa beat the second-place girls by nearly 2 minutes in a previous race, Your News reports.
"Some of the best female runners in Maine who have trained for years, if not a decade or more, are being bullied by this boy. Some girl's dreams, athletic success, and potentially future college track scholarships could be denied this weekend because of him and those enabling him. Everyone is guilty," wrote journalist Shawn McBreairty for Your News.
Some of the athletes told McBreairty they were afraid to speak out.
One student, speaking anonymously, said, "It is not fair to a female who has trained hard. Males are biologically faster than females, with testosterone. They need to run under their biological gender."
One parent, a father of two female racers and a physician, called it an injustice to women.
"If a boy, competing in a sporting event, were found to be using 'performance enhancing' drugs, he would be disqualified due to the presumption of unfair competitive advantage," he explained.
"If instead, that same boy chose to compete as a girl, he would not only NOT be disqualified due to his enormous presumptive competitive advantage, he would be lauded, feted, and applauded. If five boys chose to compete as five girls, they would not only NOT be disqualified, but they could quite conceivably win the top 5 places. Thus we would have the spectacle where the top 5 athletes in the girls' XC race were, in fact, boys," the father added.
He continued, "For the boys, it would be tragic, for it teaches them things that simply do not apply outside of the very narrow time and place in which we currently reside. For the girls, it is the grossest of injustices in every conceivable way, because it forces them to participate in, and to some extent accept, something which is manifestly false. They must, like it or not, participate in the lie."
Former NCAA swimmer turned women's rights activist Riley Gaines spoke on the controversy.
"It's always the same story. Anyone who thinks trans-identifying males competing in women's sports is fair, please show me ONE example of a female ranking higher against the men at a competitive level than she did in the women's category," she wrote on X.
It's always the same story.— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) October 3, 2023
Anyone who thinks trans-identifying males competing in women's sports is fair, please show me ONE example of a female ranking higher against the men at a competitive level than she did in the women's category. pic.twitter.com/duqdJ6yIbX
Meanwhile, the Maine Coast Waldorf School athletics director defended the athlete amid the criticism.
"We support all our students at Maine Coast Waldorf School, and are proud that our students are given the opportunity to participate in all of our school programs," said Susan Sonntag.
She added that the school adheres to Maine's law prohibiting "unlawful educational discrimination."
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