Maine high school boy dominates in women's cross country competition after placing 172nd on men's team

Soren Stark-Chessa was ranked 172 overall in 2022 as a male athlete, and is now ranked fourth as a female.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

A biological male running cross country in Maine has transitioned, and in the process has gone from being ranked 172nd as a freshman boy to being ranked fourth as a sophomore girl in the state.

Soren Stark-Chessa, a student at the Maine Coast Waldorf School, a private school in Freeport, transitioned over the past year, and now competes in the female division, according to the Daily Mail.

Stark-Chessa competed in the Maine XC Festival of Champions on Saturday in Belfast, finishing fifth.

One young female runner told journalist Shawn McBreairty, "It’s not fair to a female who has trained hard. Males are biologically faster than females, with testosterone. They need to run under their biological gender."

The father of two current cross country runners in the state and a physician said, "if a boy, competing in a sporting event, were found to be using 'performance enhancing' drugs, he would be disqualified due to the presumption of unfair competitive advantage."

"If instead, that same boy chose to compete as a girl, he would not only NOT be disqualified due to his enormous presumptive competitive advantage, he would be lauded, feted and applauded.," he added. "If five boys chose to compete as five girls, they would not only NOT be disqualified, but they could quite conceivably win the top 5 places. Thus we would have the spectacle where the top 5 athletes in the girls’ XC race were, in fact, boys."

"For the boys, it would be tragic, for it teaches them things that simply do not apply outside of the very narrow time and place in which we currently reside.  For the girls, it is the grossest of injustices in every conceivable way, because it forces them to participate in, and to some extent accept, something which is manifestly false.  They must, like it or not, participate in the lie."

McBreairty noted that during last year’s Festival of Champions competition, Stark-Chessa finished in 51st place as a male.

Waldorf School athletic director Susan Sonntag said in a statement, "We support all our students at Maine Coast Waldorf School, and are proud that our students are given the opportunity to participate in all of our school programs. Additionally, MCWS adheres to the Maine Statute, Title 5, §4602 'Unlawful educational discrimination' which is further supported by Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) policy."

The Maine Principals’ Association, which oversees interscholastic activities such as sports across the state, states in its 2022-23 handbook under its Gender Equity and Inclusion Policy that "The MPA is committed to maximizing the opportunities for all students to participate in interscholastic activities and athletics, regardless of their gender identity or expression."

"At the same time, the MPA is committed to ensuring fair competition and adequate protection of student athletes. Consistent with its principles, the MPA believes that all students should have the opportunity to participate in MPA activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, unless such participation would result in an unfair athletic advantage or would present an unacceptable risk of injury to other student athletes."

The handbook acknowledges that "most high school aged boys have a distinct athletic advantage competing against their female counterparts."

At the school level, students requesting to be placed on a team that doesn’t match their biological sex must contact the school, who contacts the MPA and requests a confidential meeting with the Gender Identity Equity Committee. The student must provide paperwork stating their birth sex and their chosen gender identity, as well as prior athletic participation and statistics related to their past athletic performance.

The Gender Identity Equity Committee consists of four present or former high school principals and assistant principals, with a fifth member of the committee being a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental health professional "with experience in gender identity health care and the World Professions Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) standards of care."

"It's always the same story," wrote Riley Gaines, the former University of Kentucky swimmer who swam against former UPenn biological male athlete Lia Thomas. "Anyone who thinks trans-identifying males competing in women's sports is fair, please show me ONE example of a female ranking higher against the men at a competitive level than she did in the women's category."

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