NCAA Division 1 Transgender Runner Named Athlete of the Week

A University of Montana women’s cross country runner known as June Eastwood—a biological male—was named last week’s Big Sky Conference athlete of the week in the sport after finishing second among 204 runners at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational in Sunnyvale, California.

Eastwood, who now identifies as a female, competed last year as Jonathan Eastwood on the Montana men’s cross country and track teams, placing seventh in May 2018 in the men’s 1,500-meter competition at the conference’s outdoor championship, according to the runner’s profile still posted on the university’s men’s cross country webpage.

Under NCAA rules, males identifying as females are allowed to compete in the women’s division after “completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.” The rules, however, don’t require a minimum testosterone level for males to qualify for competition against females.

Eastwood, who is also currently listed on the university’s women’s cross country web page as June, finished first at an Oct. 4 meet and third at a Sept. 21 race among female competitors.

A high school state title holder as a male runner, Edwards told KULR-TV in Billings, Montana: “I thought that the rules would be a little more strict and less vague. I thought there would be some definite numbers that they might be looking for.”

According to LetsRun.com, the “International Olympic Committee … requires that [a male to female] transgender athlete ‘must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition.’”

Retired professional tennis player and nine-time Wimbledon Women’s Champion Martina Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in 1981, said earlier this year male-to-female transgender athletes have inherently unfair biological advantages over their female competitors.

“Simply reducing hormone levels—the prescription most sports have adopted—does not solve the problem,” Navratilova wrote in England’s The Sunday Times. “A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a greater number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood. Training increases the discrepancy. Indeed, if a male were to change gender in such a way as to eliminate any accumulated advantage, he would have to begin hormone treatment before puberty. For me, that is unthinkable.”

 

Above: University of Montana cross country runner June Eastwood, center, warms up with her teammates at Campbell Park in Missoula, Montana, on Aug. 15, 2019.

Photo: AP