Another outcry over transgender athletes is brewing, this time in Massachusetts over a student who helped Brookline High School win a girls’ state track-and-field championship after transitioning from male to female.
Brookline High School junior Chloe Barnes, who competed last year on the boys’ team, was part of the girls’ squad that won last month’s Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I Indoor Track & Field Championship.
The teen wasn’t dominant, placing fourth in the 55-meter hurdles, but the Independent Council on Women’s Sports, or ICONS Women, pointed out that Barnes displaced a girl who would have otherwise earned a spot in the finals.
“Girls in Massachusetts are facing the injustice of being denied equal opportunity and fair treatment in sports,” said ICONS Women in a Thursday statement. “The inclusion of male athletes in women’s events excludes girls. Every girl at every stage of athletics, from the last spot on the relay to the podium, deserves access to fair competition and opportunity equal to that of her male counterparts.”
Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines posted a photo of the hurdlers at the girls’ medal ceremony and asked: “Massachusetts girls high school track and field state championship a few weeks ago. Can you guess which is the male?”
Rep. Mary Miller, Illinois Republican, tweeted: “This is unfair to our daughters, and parents must start speaking up!”
“Simply cheating!! This should not be allowed #SaveWomensSport,” tweeted three-time British Olympic hurdler Andy Turner.
Technically, Barnes wasn’t cheating. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s gender policy states that a student “shall not be excluded from participation on a gender-specific sports team that is consistent with the student’s bona fide gender identity.”
“The MIAA shall defer to the determination of the student and the student’s school regarding gender classification,” said the MIAA 2022-23 handbook.
The Turtleboy Daily News dug up video showing Barnes racing in the girls’ 4x200 relay on Jan. 14 at the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Northeast Invitational in Boston, saying that the Brookline team did well “largely because their second leg was a boy.”
“The athlete’s name is Chloe Barnes, and as you can see he is a dude who had the luxury of going through male puberty which gave him an obvious advantage over his female competitors,” said Turtleboy senior editor Aidan Kearney in the Jan. 17 article.
This isn’t the first flap involving biological males in high school girls’ track. Four Connecticut female track athletes are embroiled in a lawsuit with the state’s scholastic sports authority over two male-to-female transgender athletes who won multiple girls’ races and titles from 2017-19.
Eighteen states have passed laws requiring athletes to compete in scholastic sports based on their biological sex or sex at birth, not gender identity, but Massachusetts isn’t one of them.
Barnes has not commented publicly on the recent criticism. In a June interview with the Cypress, Brookline’s student newspaper, Barnes discussed training with the girls’ team but racing on the boys’ team.
“I’m in an arrangement with my coaches where I practice with the girls’ team but compete on the boys’ team,” Barnes told the Cypress. “It was more a result of me just being afraid of other people watching [me] race.”
Barnes signaled an intention to join the girls’ team for the 2022-23 academic year, and had a message for those opposed to athletes competing based on gender identity.
“Deal with it,” Barnes said. “Just deal with it.”