- Cynthia Monteleone, 45, is a Team USA Masters runner and 400m world champ
- In a Fox News op-ed, the track star detailed her near-loss to a trans athlete in 2018, and her daughter’s more recent loss to a runner assigned male at birth
- ‘I had watched proudly as my strong and determined girl did all the right things… all her hard work seemed to drift away with the male-bodied athlete’
- The trans athlete, she said, was able to ‘breeze past’ her daughter despite just joining the track team and having minimal training
- Daughter Margaret, currently a junior in high school ‘is already worried about whether she will be able to compete for and receive scholarships’
- Monteleone said that the young women she coaches shoulder the ‘psychological toll’ of competing against ‘male-bodied’ athletes
- ‘How can you win as a female when you’re lined up next to a male body whose strength, heart and lung capacity, and pace are all greater than your own’
- It comes amid controversy over transgender swimmer Lia Thomas who broke several US women’s national records despite competing for years as a man
A US world champion track runner is speaking out against athletes assigned male at birth competing against women, warning that ‘if male-bodied athletes continue competing on female teams, it will be the end of women’s sports.’
Cynthia Monteleone, 45, is one of the US’ foremost Masters athletes and a world champion in the 400m, but detailed her near-loss to a transgender runner in 2018, and her runner daughter’s loss to a transgender athlete in an opinion piece published on Friday by Fox News.
Monteleone’s daughter, Margaret, experienced what her mother called the ‘demoralizing trend of male-bodied athletes displacing females from their own competitions’ in her op-ed piece.
‘A year and a half after my experience in Spain, my daughter lost to a biological male identifying as female in her first-ever high school track race. I had watched proudly as my strong and determined girl did all the right things – made personal, difficult sacrifices to train her body to be as fast and fit as possible for her first race,’ she wrote.
‘Yet all her hard work seemed to drift away along with the male-bodied athlete, who had just transferred from the boys’ volleyball team to the girl’s team the season before. The athlete breezed right by her to win first place, leaving her to finish second.’
In an interview earlier this month with Tucker Carlson, Monteleone bemoaned that her daughter ‘had to line up for her very first race, after training all year, along a biological male,’ who Monteleone said ‘blew everybody away in the first 100 meters’ despite having trained for only two weeks prior to the meet.’
‘She deserved to win. She put in the work. But she had no chance because of the biological advantage of this male-bodied athlete.’
Monteleone said that her family began to witness the ways that losses to transgender athletes effect women and families even after the race is over – the mental health impact, the ‘personal lessons in effort rewarded and goals achieved’ and the loss of accolades and scholarships.
Her daughter, who is currently a junior in high school, plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps – but she ‘is already worried about whether she will be able to compete for and receive scholarships.’
The most important factor for young women, Monteleone said, is the psychological toll that comes with competing against transgender athletes.
‘Many of the girls I coach suffer from anxiety over having to compete against male-bodied athletes. We all know the powerful scientific neurotransmitter connection between our minds and our bodies: When you think you can win, you have a better chance of doing it. It’s proven.’
Monteleone felt that same anxiety when she ran alongside an unidentified trans athlete, who she barely bested, in 2018.
‘Words can’t describe how I felt walking up to that starting line in Spain next to a biological male-bodied athlete,’ the Hawaiian track star told Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenns) during a Facebook live stream on the Senator’s page ‘Unmuted with Marsha’ earlier in February.
She detailed the experience further in her Friday op-ed.
‘At the 2018 World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain, I competed in the 200-meter race against a male-bodied athlete, whom I beat by only a few tenths of a second,’ wrote Monteleone.
‘The next year, the same athlete beat my teammate in the hurdles for a place on the podium at the 2019 World Championship indoor meet in Poland. My teammate had trained harder than anyone I know.’
Earlier this month, the Hawaii-based runner said in an interview that she was told after that race against Yanelle Del Mar Zape of Columbia that she shouldn’t make a complaint, and ‘for [her] own safety [she] should probably keep [her] mouth shut’ by Team USA track and field.
In today’s op-ed, the Hawaiian said that ‘those of us who dare speak out that competing against males is unfair are told, “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal. It doesn’t happen that often.””
‘How can you win as a female when you’re lined up next to a male body whose strength, heart and lung capacity, and pace are all greater than your own no matter what the “treatment?”‘ she opined.
She claimed that ‘numerous studies have shown males continue to hold large physical advantages over females, even when suppressing their testosterone.’
‘A male’s muscular advantage is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed, and males are still 12% faster than their female counterparts after two years of feminizing hormones,’ Monteleone wrote.
The world champion’s comments come amid the controversy surrounding University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who now faces a potential ban from the sport after she broke several women’s national records – despite previously competing for three years as a man.
USA Swimming today updated their rules to say that competitors in women’s events must have recorded low levels of testosterone for 36 months.
Thomas, 22, began transitioning from male to female in May 2019, and so would appear to have only 32 months.
But officials clarified that the rule change would not come into effect until next season.
‘The recent rule changes do not impact Lia’s eligibility for this month’s Ivy League Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships as the effective date for this unprecedented midseason NCAA policy change begins with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships,’ an Ivy League spokesperson told Swimming World.
On Wednesday, Thomas swam head-to-head at Harvard, with both swimming the first leg of the 800-yard freestyle.
After a hard-fought battle, Thomas managed to cinch it for Penn with a time of 1:44:50, while Henig managed 1:44:65 for Yale – the two fastest splits of the competition.
Harvard was ultimately victorious, Penn was third.
On Thursday, Thomas won the Ivy-league championship in the 500-yard free, finishing with a time of 4:37:32 taking home first place, giving the Penn State Quakers 32 points for the total team rankings.
The debate over whether male-to-female transgender athletes should be allowed to compete unrestricted against biological females has proved extremely divisive.
Some have argued that transgender athletes who identify as female should be permitted to compete as women, contending that to exclude trans athletes from high-level competition is tantamount to transphobia.
Others however have pointed out that transgender male-to-female athletes, particularly those who experienced puberty as a male and lived several years as an adult before transitioning, have myriad physical advantages over biological female competitors which no amount of training and dedication could ever overcome.
Though some contest that transgender athletes can take exogenous hormones to reduce their testosterone to levels equal to biological females, a range of studies have found that trans competitors by and large permanently retain a great deal of their physical advantages.
One study, by the Macdonald–Laurier Institute, a Canadian think tank, argued ‘there is neither a medical intervention nor a clever philosophical argument that can make it fair for trans women to compete in women’s sport.
‘For trans women who have successfully suppressed testosterone for 12 months, the extent of muscle/strength loss is only an approximately (and modest) -5% after 12 months,’ the authors of the study wrote.
‘Testosterone suppression does not remove the athletic advantage acquired under high testosterone conditions at puberty, while the male musculoskeletal advantage is retained.’
The view is echoed by Joanna Harper, who herself is a transgender competitive runner and medical physicist at Loughborough University in the UK.
‘There’s ‘absolutely no question trans women will maintain strength advantages over cisgender women, or non-transgender women, even after testosterone suppression.
‘That’s based on my clinical experience, rather than published data, but I would say there’s zero doubt in my mind,’ she told WebMD.
Monteleone is now pushing for a review of the current regulations which allow student athletes to compete under the sex they identify as, following an executive order signed by President Biden on his very first day in office.
The Masters track star declared that the current administration is putting the ‘nail in the coffin’ of female sports, before going on to encourage biological female athletes to speak out against injustices.
‘Have that courage and focus on what’s at stake for the future,’ she said.
‘The bottom line is female-bodied athletes deserve their chance for accolades and awards and scholarships.’
In November, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published its own guidelines for sports regarding transgender rules in sports, but dodged specifics.
Instead, it calls on each sport to implement its own guidelines on what constitutes an unfair advantage.
No athlete should be excluded from competing based on an ‘unverified, alleged or perceived unfair competitive advantage due to their sex variations, physical appearance and/or transgender status,’ the International Olympic Committee said.
‘Athletes should be allowed to compete but unfair advantage needs to be regulated.’