From Daily Mail: A transgender woman who previously competed as a man has become a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) track champion.
CeCe Telfer clinched the women’s 400-meter hurdles national title at the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships for Franklin Pierce University on May 25.
Her triumph has been surrounded by controversy as many in the running world express concerns that transgender athletes competing in women’s sports may have an unfair advantage.
Telfer completed the course with a stunning time of 57.53s, with the second place opponent trailing far behind with a score of 59.21s. She also earned All-American First Team honors with a fifth-place finish in the 100m hurdles earlier in the day.
Telfer’s coach Zach Emerson praised his team member’s performance, saying: ‘It was tough conditions out here with the wind and the heat over the last three days but, as she has over the last six months, CeCe proved herself to be tough enough to handle it. Today was a microcosm of her entire season; she was not going to let anything slow her down. I’ve never met anybody as strong as her mentally in my entire life.’
Telfer was born and raised as Craig and competed on the men’s team at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire from 2016 to 2018, even though she personally identified as a woman.
In the 2016-2017 season, Telfer was not even in the top 200 male athletes in her event. Her last competition as Craig was in January 2018, when she finished eighth in a field of nine in the Men’s 400 meters at the Middlebury Winter Classic in Vermont.
After that race Telfer resigned from the men’s team and underwent gender re-assignment surgery before joining the women’s team that October.
Under NCAA guidelines male athletes are eligible to compete as women if they suppress their testosterone levels for a full calendar year. Before the year-mark, they can compete on mixed-sex teams in the men’s division but not the women’s.
Telfer’s coach Emerson claims that the vast improvement she is displaying this current season versus the previous three comes down to the increased effort she’s put in. ‘She’s been been incredibly motivated this year and I think the transition one million percent had something to do with that. It’s like night and day as far as what she was willing to do as an athlete and how committed she was,’ Emerson said.
Telfer’s most recent championship, which made her Franklin Pierce University’s first gold medalist in the event, has reignited the debate over whether issues surrounding transgender athletes are being handled fairly.
Robert Johnson broached the topic in a column for Let’sRun.com, writing: ‘The fact that Telfer can change her gender and immediately become a national champion is proof positive as to why women’s sports needs protection. Telfer ran slightly faster in the 400 hurdles competing as a man (57.34) than as a woman (57.53), even though the men’s hurdles are six inches taller than the women’s hurdles.
‘Yet when Telfer ran 57.34 as a man, she didn’t even score at her conference meet — she was just 10th at the Northeast-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2016. Now she’s the national champion.’
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