Transgender 'Women’s Champion' Athlete: Being Born a Man is 'a Disadvantage'
Trans athlete CeCe Tefler has been winning big since switching to female sports
A biological male transgender athlete, who has been winning big after switching to compete in female sports events, claims that being born a man is "a disadvantage" when competing against women.
CeCe Tefler competed as a man before winning the NCAA women’s national championship last month but claims to not have an unfair advantage over female-born runners.
Previously competing in men's event under the name Craig Telfer, CeCe Tefler now "identifies" as a woman and won the women's NCAA track national championship last month.
Craig Telfer was considered an average athlete for the Franklin Pierce men’s track team last year, according to his stats, and finished second at the Greater Boston Track Club Invitational in the 60-meter hurdles as a junior, but finished second to last place in his final race as a male.
Now identifying as a woman for this years' championships, 21-year-old CeCe is cleaning up in the female events.
Cece Telfer made history by becoming the first transgender woman to clinch an NCAA track title, by winning the women's 400-meter hurdles at the Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships for Franklin Pierce University on May 25.
But ever since, the "triumph" has been shrouded in controversy, sparking debate in the running world amid concerns that born-male transgender athletes competing in women's sports may provide them with an unfair edge.
According to the Daily Mail, Telfer completed the course with a stunning time of 57.53s, with the second place opponent trailing far behind with a score of 59.21s.
CeCe also earned All-American First Team honors with a fifth-place finish in the 100m hurdles earlier in the day.
However, Telfer insists being biologically male doesn’t provide any advantages over female-born opponents, believing the medical procedures transgenders go through as part of their gender transitioning to be a significant disadvantage.
"If anything, me competing against cisgender females is a disadvantage, because my body is going through so many medical implications," Telfer said during an interview with ESPN.
"It’s going through biochemistry changes. … Being on hormone replacement therapy … your muscle is deteriorating, you lose a lot of strength because testosterone is where you get your strength, your agility."
Telfer claims to need to work twice as hard to maintain strength as cisgender (people who "identify" with the gender they were born with) female counterparts.
"I have to work twice as hard to keep that strength.
"If I slack a day, that’s like three days set behind. So, I have to keep up my workouts. …
"I can’t drink, I can’t eat unhealthy because it’s going to impact me harder."
"If anything, me competing against cisgender females is a disadvantage.."@FPUathletics track star CeCe Telfer talks about the physical challenges she faces while competing as a transgender woman. pic.twitter.com/9VhlOVA70V— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) June 13, 2019
Claims that testosterone could give transgenders an advantage were also quashed by the up-and-coming runner, as Telfer says trans athletes take hormone suppressors and therefore it provides no benefit.
"That’s another disadvantage," Tefler said.
"Cis women are producing more testosterone than the average trans female."
"So it’s crazy! I’m the crazy one, to be the weakest female, the weakest link in the chain, to be competing against the top ones.
"I should be fingered as the stupid one, for wanting to do that in the first place."
Telfer believes winning unprecedented victories marked the beginning of a "powerful movement," insisting that scoring a gold medal is empowering as a female athlete.
Telfer's coach Zach Emerson, a biological male who "identifies" as a man, praised his team member's performance, saying:
"It was tough conditions out here with the wind and the heat over the last three days but, as she has over the last six months, CeCe proved herself to be tough enough to handle it.
"Today was a microcosm of her entire season; she was not going to let anything slow her down.
"I've never met anybody as strong as her mentally in my entire life."
Telfer was born and raised as Craig and competed on the men's team at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire from 2016 to 2018.
In the 2016-2017 season, Craig Telfer was not even in the top 200 male athletes in his event.
In the last competition as Craig, in January 2018, he finished eighth in a field of nine in the Men's 400 meters at the Middlebury Winter Classic in Vermont.
After that race, Telfer resigned from the men's team and continued a "transition" into a female.
CeCe Telfer joined the women's team that October.
Under NCAA guidelines male athletes are eligible to compete as women if they suppress their testosterone levels for a full calendar year.
Before the year-mark, they can compete on mixed-sex teams in the men's division but not the women's.
Telfer's coach Emerson claims that the vast improvement CeCe is displaying this current season versus the previous three comes down to "increased effort."
"She's been incredibly motivated this year and I think the transition one million percent had something to do with that. It's like night and day as far as what she was willing to do as an athlete and how committed she was," Emerson said.
Telfer's most recent championship, which made CeCe Franklin Pierce University's first gold medalist in the event, has reignited the debate over whether issues surrounding transgender athletes are being handled fairly.
Robert Johnson broached the topic in a column for Let'sRun.com, writing: "The fact that Telfer can change her gender and immediately become a national champion is proof positive as to why women's sports needs protection.
"Telfer ran slightly faster in the 400 hurdles competing as a man (57.34) than as a woman (57.53), even though the men's hurdles are six inches taller than the women's hurdles.
"Yet when Telfer ran 57.34 as a man, she didn't even score at her conference meet — she was just 10th at the Northeast-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2016.
"Now she's the national champion."
Australian running champ Tamsyn Manou also says Telfer's title is unfair and falls into a "concerning gray area."
She said the female category in elite sports is currently vulnerable and not being protected enough to ensure a fair and even competition.
"I think that it's important that people understand it's not about gender identity," Manou said.
"This is an issue that is surrounding what you were born as, biologically what your sex is."
"There is just way too much advantage with a male competing against a female."
However, the NCAA disagrees about the advantage.
The organization's Transgender Handbook states:
"According to medical experts on this issue, the assumption that a transgender woman competing on a women's team would have a competitive advantage outside the range of performance and competitive advantage or disadvantage that already exists among female athletes is not supported by evidence."