Rubama: Is it fair that a person born male should compete against females? The debate continues.

Earlier this month, some of the nation’s top male and female athletes gathered in Hampton Roads for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Virginia Beach Sports Center.

One of those athletes was Rochester Institute of Technology sophomore sprinter Sadie Schreiner, who beat out many to qualify in the 200 meters.

But there is concern about Schreiner.

She used to compete on the men’s track team.

This year, she’s running for the women’s team as a transgender athlete.

Being a former Division I track athlete, I’m concerned.

Here is a person born male who decides to be a female. I have no problem with that. But what I don’t agree with is now she wants to compete against women, who were born female.

There is much debate about whether trans women should compete in female categories and whether their biological gender gives them an unfair advantage.

I’m not a scientist, but I have to believe being born a man and competing against women has to give the transwomen an advantage. But I could be wrong.

In an NBC story in 2021, a study suggested transgender women maintain an athletic advantage over their cisgender peers even after a year on hormone therapy. The results, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, could mean the current one-year waiting period for Olympic athletes who are transitioning is inadequate.

“For the Olympic level, the elite level, I’d say probably two years is more realistic than one year,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Timothy Roberts, a pediatrician and the director of the adolescent medicine training program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. “At one year, the trans women on average still have an advantage over the cis women,” he said, referring to cisgender, or nontransgender, women.

Ross Tucker, a sports scientist, told BBC Sport that physiological differences established during puberty can create “significant performance advantages (between men and women).”

In the same story, Joanna Harper, a sports scientist who is transgender herself, said, “Advantages are not necessarily unfair.”

She went on to say “the question isn’t ‘do trans women have advantages,’ but instead, ‘can trans women and women compete against one another in meaningful competition?’ Truthfully, the answer isn’t definitive yet. Trans women can have disadvantages because their larger frames are now being powered by reduced muscle mass and reduced aerobic capacity, but that’s not as obvious as the advantages of simply being bigger. Yes, it’s true that competition can often come down to a very small margin, but there are, in any competition, many factors that come into overall performance and just saying that ‘oh, somebody has an advantage’ in one factor doesn’t necessarily determine the outcome.”

Harper added that once transgender women reduce testosterone for 12 months, they should be allowed in. “That’s not a perfect policy — nobody is saying it is — but World Athletics has said this is the best we can do with the available science,” she said.

On the first day of the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, and its collegiate leadership, Young Women for America (YWA), joined other female athletes, coaches, parents and policy leaders in a rally outside the Virginia Beach Sports Center.

The coalition gathered to demand that the National Collegiate Athletics Association, the governing body for collegiate sports, stops discriminating against female athletes.

I asked Diana L. Banister, who is with Concerned Women for America, why they were holding a rally.

“They’re trying to stand up for female athletes who have to compete against a biological male,” she told me. “Sadie Schreiner, last year, was on the male track and field team. And this year, he’s competing in the Division III Championships in the 200 meters against female athletes.”

She added the NCAA has certain standards about hormones before they allow a person to compete.

The NCAA’s current transgender athlete policy is designed to align with evolving standards for inclusion and fairness, including requirements for hormone suppression treatments to better promote fairness, according to the NCAA website. Current requirements are created on a sport-by-sport basis.

Beginning in August 2024, the final implementation phase of the policy, transgender female student-athletes who have been preliminarily green-lighted for competition will have to provide documentation and lab results at least twice per year (likely more), and within four weeks of any championship events, to compete.

Of the more than 480,000 students who compete as NCAA athletes, only 32 transgender athletes openly compete in college sports, according to a 2023 story in the Nebraska Examiner.

Doreen Denny, senior advisor for CWA, said she doesn’t want to see female athletes be denied.

“At a time when the NCAA faces backlash for suppressing women’s achievements, another female athlete is being denied a place in history so a biological male can make another run at a national podium,” she said. “The NCAA has forced its ‘transgender inclusion’ agenda in women’s sports for 14 years with a policy that allows male inclusion in female competition. The discrimination against women by the NCAA must stop.”

It has also been debated that hormone suppression does not eliminate an advantage transgender athletes have in women’s athletics. The ongoing debate from both sides about the advantages or disadvantages in athletic performance attributed to transgender athletes is a topic that remains contentious due to limited and ongoing research.

Houghton University president Wayne D. Lewis Jr. is so bothered by what’s going on that he spoke out publicly. Houghton University is a private, Christian, coeducational college located about an hour south of Rochester Institute of Technology, where Schreiner goes to school.

“The reason I spoke out when I did is because it’s now directly impacting the student-athletes at Houghton University,” he told me last week. “For this issue to be impacting our students, and for me to at the very least not lend my voice to the group of people who are saying, ‘this is wrong,’ quite frankly, I would have felt like a coward. I need to say, for our student-athletes, this is wrong, and advocate on their behalf.”

His athlete, who he didn’t name to protect her identity, lost twice to Schreiner during competition this past indoor season.

He said it also was important to speak out because he wants to bring awareness to it.

This season, Schreiner has broken several records and was named “women’s performer of the week.” At the meet earlier this month, Schreiner won her heat, but finished one spot out from making the finals. Had she made the finals, she would have taken the spot of a woman-born athlete from advancing to the finals.

Lewis and others hope the NCAA will act.

“We’re asking the NCAA to take another hard look at policies and regulations that permit biological males to displace and take opportunities away from young women,” he said. “We also want those records to be erased. What a slap in the face to the women who worked so hard for those records.”

He feels that if something isn’t done, it will open the door for more biological men competing against girls.

He points out that he’s not against transgender athletes competing, he just feels — like me — that their participation should be based on biological sex.

I reached out to Rochester Institute of Technology by phone and email to speak to the athlete in question, but was unsuccessful.

This is an issue that’s not going away and will continue to be debated.

As one person told me, “I support their gender transition outside of sports. But not in it.”

Larry Rubama, 757-575-6449,