A transgender second-year high school student in Maine has been criticized for participating in the girls’ 5K cross-country competition despite having run as a boy last year.
Soren Stark-Chessa, a student at the private Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport, was ranked 172nd in the district as a freshman in the boys’ competition.
Over the course of the past year, Stark-Chessa made the move and now, as a sophomore, she races in the girls’ competitions, where she ranks fourth.
On Saturday, Stark-Chessa competed at the Maine XC Festival of Champions in Belfast and finished fifth.
As Stark-Chessa sprinted to the finish, in a time of 5:51:3, he heard someone shout, “Way to cheat, man!”
Soren Stark-Chessa, a sophomore in high school, participates in the girls 5k. Stark-Chessa competed in the boys competition as a freshman
A young female runner told journalist Shawn McBreairty: ‘It’s not fair to a woman who has trained hard.
‘Men are biologically faster than women, with testosterone. They have to operate under their biological gender.”
One mother, Katherine Collins of Winterport, Maine, whose children compete in track and field events, told McBreairty with Your News that she thought it was unfair.
“Men are simply bigger, faster and stronger than their female counterparts,” she said.
“By comparison, the top-ranked female high school runner in all of New England would rank only 47th among high school athletes in Maine.”
One father, a doctor, whose two children compete in high school cross country in Maine, said it was completely unfair.
“If a boy participating in a sporting event is found to be using performance-enhancing drugs, he will be disqualified due to the suspicion of an unfair competitive advantage,” the father said.
“If that same boy instead chose to compete as a girl, not only would he not be disqualified due to his enormous perceived competitive advantage, but he would also be praised, celebrated and applauded.
“For the boys it would be tragic because it teaches them things that simply don’t apply outside of the very limited time and place in which we currently live.
“For the girls, it is the grossest injustice in every conceivable way, because it forces them to participate in, and to some extent, accept something that is patently untrue. Whether they like it or not, they have to participate in the lie.”
Stark-Chessa can be seen in action on Saturday at the Festival of Champions
Some people booed Saturday as Stark-Chessa ran to the finish line and finished fifth
Stark-Chessa’s athletic director hit back, saying they were “proud” of all their students.
“We support all of our students at Maine Coast Waldorf School and are proud that our students have the opportunity to participate in all of our school programs,” said Susan Sonntag.
Sonntag said the school complies with Maine law prohibiting “unlawful educational discrimination.”
The controversy mirrors that surrounding trans swimmer Lia Thomas, who competed for Penn — to the ire of many fellow swimmers.
Riley Gaines, a University of Kentucky swimmer who lost to Thomas, has now committed to campaigning to end the practice of allowing trans athletes in competitive school sports.