Two transgender-identifying boys withdrew from California's high school track and field championships on Friday—a last-minute surprise that state officials suggested was due to discrimination.
The runners, Athena Ryan and Lorelei Barrett, skipped the championship girls' 1,600-meter race amid backlash to the participation. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Friday, California's governing body for high school sports said it was "disappointed" that "the actions of others" led the students and their families to fear for their "well being."
"The CIF strongly denounces discriminatory or harassing behaviors that impact our student-athletes’ opportunities to participate in interscholastic competitions," the California Interscholastic Federation said.
Ryan and Barrett's no-shows at the championships were an anticlimactic finish to a week of protests and public debate over the runners' qualification for the elite meet. Similar disagreements erupted elsewhere in the country as transgender-identifying boys competed in girls' track championships in Washington State, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.
The Independent Council on Women’s Sports, an advocacy group, helped publicize the outcry against transgender-identifying boys' participation in female sports. ICONS cofounder Kim Jones said many girls and parents fear speaking out will lead to retaliation or loss of collegiate scholarships or other athletic opportunities.
"There are people saying we shouldn’t be talking about kids in sports, but we have a moral imperative to share the truth," Jones said in a statement. "Girls placed in dangerous and unfair situations are deflated and left to believe their fair treatment doesn’t matter as much as not hurting a boy."
She added that schools’ policies letting trans-identifying males compete with girls "are ripping apart women’s sports."
California law has required schools to allow transgender students to compete on the single-sex teams they identify with since 2014. The California Interscholastic Federation bylaws state that "students should have the opportunity to participate in CIF activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records." The federation does not address evidence that men, even those taking cross-sex hormones, are much stronger and faster than women on average.
Nationwide, since 2020, at least 21 states have enacted laws or policies that ban transgender-identifying boys from playing on school sports teams with women and girls, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Meanwhile, 16 states and the District of Columbia have transgender-"friendly" high school sports policies, according to the Transathlete website.
House Republicans last month passed a bill to ban transgender athletes from participating in female school sports, but President Joe Biden promised to veto the legislation, which cannot advance anyway in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Last week, the Biden administration delayed new Title IX rules that would restrict schools' ability to bar transgender athletes from female sports, saying it needed more time to review more than 240,000 comments about the proposal.
Published under: Transgenderism