A transgender runner won 2nd place in the California high school state qualifying high school track and field meet, prompting questions of fairness for bumping out a biological female.
Athena Ryan, a biological male and junior from Sonoma Academy, took home the silver medal in the varsity girls 1,600-meter run finals on Saturday, allowing Ryan to advance to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Track and Field Championships next week.
Protestors were at the track meet holding up signs that read, “protect female sports.” The protestors were removed from the premises by security.
“They’re kicking us out because we care about women and girls,” one protestor said.
Ryan’s victory means that senior competitor Adeline Johnson, who placed fourth, will not be advancing to the state championships, ending her high school career. In a Twitter video Johnson can be seen giving a thumbs down before standing up on the podium to take her medal.
Ryan isn’t the only transgender athlete that will be competing in the same event at state championships. Lorelei Barrett, from a different district in California, has also qualified in the girls 1,600-meter race and will be with Ryan against biological females next week.
Concerns over fairness have prompted some states and sports associations to ban the practice.
World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, announced last month that transgender women who went through male puberty can no longer compete in women’s events at international competitions.
In January of last year, the NCAA updated its transgender student-athletes participation policy governing college sports, requiring transgender athletes to provide documentation of testosterone levels three times during a season.
But collegiate sports stars like Riley Gaines, a former All-American swimmer, maintain the NCAA isn’t going far enough, as biological males still possess overwhelming physiological advantages.
“There are so many things that testosterone suppression doesn’t change on a man, including your lung size, your heart size – obviously your height and your wingspan and your bone density,” she told The Lion in November. “Men have a 40% larger throat than females. And that plays a huge part in success.”