Jun 07, 2024, 06:27AM

Track and Field in 2024

A few notable transgender atheletes who have won state championships this spring.

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At least five transgender athletes won state championships in the same sport in the same season this spring. Those male athletes who identify as transgender won girls’ outdoor track and field state championships in five different states. Two wins came in the Pacific Northwest, while the other three happened in New England. I wrote about the New England instances for NewBostonPost.

Here’s a look at each of those five state champions, plus a few honorable mentions:

Aayden Gallagher—The sophomore won an Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A state championship in the 200-meter (23.82 seconds)—and boos followed. Gallagher made national headlines for the reaction to the male athlete’s victory. Whether one thinks booing transgender athletes is appropriate or not, it’s no surprise. Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose male transgender athletes participating on girls’ sports teams, according to a June 2023 Gallup poll.

Veronica Garcia—Like Gallagher, Garcia won a state championship in the Pacific Northwest and got an icy response from the crowd and fellow competitors.

The junior won the 400-meter (55.75 seconds) at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Division 2A state championship meet last month.

“Garcia cheered and clapped for her competitors as they received their medals,” a story in The Spokesman-Review said. “When the announcer called her to the podium, the crowd fell silent, and the other high school runners at the podium did not acknowledge her as they stood with hands clasped behind their backs.”

Maelle Jacques—The sophomore tied for first place in the high jump at the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 state championship meet last month (five feet). It was the athlete’s second state championship this school year; Jacques also won the high jump at the NHIAA Div. 2 indoor girls’ track state championship meet in February (five feet and two inches). Jacques, also a goalie in soccer, is a vocal opponent of HB1205 in New Hampshire. The bill, on Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk, would bar males from participating in girls’ interscholastic sports for Grades 5 through 12. Since New Hampshire has a slim Republican trifecta, it’s the lone state that may soon restrict transgender athlete participation.

Soren Stark-Chessa—Like Jacques, Stark-Chessa is a sophomore. Stark-Chessa won the 800-meter at the Maine Principals’ Association Class C state championship meet late last month. Stark-Chessa is a three-sport athlete who had third-place finishes at the state championship meet in girls’ cross country and Nordic skiing this school year, and exemplifies why it’s a misnomer to refer to transgender athletes as mediocre male athletes. That’s because Stark-Chessa competed on the boys’ side at the same school under the same name as a freshman and was an objectively good athlete. The runner finished 12th in the boys' outdoor track 1600 meter at the Class C state championship meet last year—the second-best performance for a freshman in the event. Competing on the girls’ side gave the runner an advantage, facing weaker competition, but we can’t pretend that Stark-Chessa is unathletic.

Lizzy Bidwell—After helping Conard High School win a team state championship in the 2023 outdoor season and winning all-New England in the high jump this past winter, Bidwell won another title last month. The junior took the triple jump (36 feet and eight inches) at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class LL state championship meet. Bidwell’s the third confirmed instance of a transgender athlete winning a track state championship in Connecticut. Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who graduated from high school in 2020, won 15 state championships combined.

Honorable mention:

Lazuli Clark—A KIPP Academy girls’ basketball player made national headlines this past winter for injuring three girls in one game, causing the other team to forfeit. The athlete’s over six feet tall and has facial hair. My research for NewBostonPost revealed that the athlete was Lazuli Clark, a senior and three-sport athlete. Clark was also a league all-star in girls’ volleyball last fall. Clark threw a shot put over 41 feet at the Lynn all-city meet last year but didn’t compete in an MIAA state championship meet last year or this year. That throw is good enough to win a state title in many divisions.

Chloe Barnes—In the winter 2022-2023 season, Barnes, a junior at the time, helped Brookline High School win a Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association indoor track team state championship; Barnes got the team five points with a fourth-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles. That news went national after I broke it (TB Daily News initially revealed the athlete is male), and that was the last time Barnes competed in a state championship meet.

Barnes qualified for the state meet this spring but didn’t participate for unknown reasons. Clark and Barnes deserve credit for sitting out of their respective championship meets.

Rose McNaughton—The junior, who’s over six feet tall, finished third in shot put at the CIAC Class S state championship meet last month. It’s unlikely that McNaughton will win any state championships, but the athlete is one of the better throwers on the girls’ side in Connecticut.


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