A Massachusetts high school has been criticized for allowing a transgender girl athlete to help win the state track and field championship last month – amid the heated debate over trans athletes in sport.
Chloe Barnes helped Brookline High School to the state’s Interscholastic Athletics Association Division 1 Indoor Track and Field Championships over three other schools after competing in the Girls 55m hurdles.
Her fourth-placed finish in the race – behind a Brookline teammate – helped her school get the points necessary to win the title.
Barnes, a junior who started competing in girls’ competitions this academic year, had previously helped them win a 4×200 meter relay at a race in January.
In video from that race, she can be seen sprinting ahead of her competitors, helping Brookline to victory in the Massachusetts State Track Coach’s Association Northeast Invitational.
She was following the rules, as the state’s policy explicitly states that ‘all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity’ when there are sex segregated disciplines.
Chloe Barnes (pictured right) after competing in a track event with Brookline High School’s girls track team
Barnes (third from left on the track) competes in the Girls 55m hurdles. Her finish helped Brookline win a championship
‘Students who are transgender may participate in accordance with the gender identity they consistently assert at school. Interscholastic athletic activities are addressed through the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Gender Identity Policy (MIAA) clarification,’ the policy states.
A year ago, before beginning to compete against girls, Barnes had grown a defiant attitude towards any potential outrage at her participation in girls sports, having told a student newspaper last year that critics should ‘deal with it. Just deal with it.’
This was after having spent a year practicing with the girls team but competing with the boys, saying ‘it was more a result of me just being afraid of other people watching [me] race.’
Critics have spoken out, with female-athlete advocacy group ICONS Women saying that Barnes kept another girl from participating in the finals and argued that boys’ hurdles are taller than girls’ hurdles, making it easier for Barnes to compete.
British Olympian Andy Turner quote-tweeted ICONS, saying: ‘Simply cheating!! This should not be allowed #SaveWomensSport.’
Riley Gaines, an All-American swimmer at the University of Kentucky and a rising star in the attempt to prevent what many see as biological males competing in women’s and girls’ sports, also spoke out on Twitter.
‘Massachusetts girls high school track and field state championship a few weeks ago,’ she wrote, with a picture of Barnes next to her competitors. ‘Can you guess which is the male?’
Barnes (right lane) is seen competing in a girls 4×200 meter relay in late January
Barnes’ performance also helped Brookline to a title at this meet
Gaines is a rising star on the conservative speaking circuit, having recently been on a panel discussion hosted by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to keep student athletes who are born biological males out of women’s sports.
The 23-year-old became an activist against transgender women participating on female sports teams after she was forced to go head-to-head with University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.
Earlier this year, Gaines slammed President Joe Biden for proposing to change the definition of ‘sex’ in a federal civil rights law to include ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity.’
The changes to Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government, would therefore allow transgender female athletes to compete against biological women in sports.
By doing so, Gaines wrote in an essay, biological women would be placed at a disadvantage when competing against transgender women.
Gaines used the opportunity to recount how she was forced to share a locker room with Thomas at the NCAA Championships back in March 2022.
Riley Gaines has became a rising star on the conservative speaking circuit, having recently been on a panel discussion hosted by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to keep student athletes who are born biological males out of women’s sports. She is seen here outside the 2023 State of the Union address
Gaines was Representative Lisa McClain’s (pictured) guest at the State of the Union because, in the Congresswoman’s words, she’s ‘a courageous, young woman…fighting against the universities…standing up for my daughters. That is an amazing story to tell’.
She wrote: ‘At the NCAA Championships, I saw a 6’4’ male exposing male parts in our women’s locker room.
‘To be perfectly clear, the anatomy I and many other women were forced to view, confirms Thomas is a male.’
Gaines said she then asked National Collegiate Athletic Association officials where she could change ‘as I had no intention of undressing in front of a man.’
‘They informed me that there were no protections in place for me to change in a space that Thomas did not have access to.
‘To summarize, the NCAA put the onus on the female to avoid undressing in front of a biological man with biological parts who is sexually attracted to women. Let that sink in.’
Gaines was also a panel moderator during the House of Representatives event last week, later trading for McCarthy’s microphone to hear from Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Lisa McLain of Michigan and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.
The Speaker opened his event remarking on the absence of Rep. Greg Steube of Florida, who introduced The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act in the previous Democrat-controlled House last year.
In addition to Gaines, panelists included volleyball player Macey Petty, former track star Margo Knorr and retired tennis player Chloe Satterfield.
Lia Thomas’ (pictured) participation on the UPenn girls’ swim team has brought the issue of transgender students’ involvement with school sports teams of their chosen gender to the forefront of the current culture wars
During Gaines’ following panel with the three conservative lawmakers, Michigan Rep. McCLain tore into rules that allow students to use locker rooms that align with their chosen gender.
‘Where is the equality?’ McCLain fumed.
‘As a mom, I have no idea what I would have done if my daughter came home and said ‘Mom, I was made to undress in a locker room in front of a man with a penis.”
She continued, ‘You know what I call that? I call that indecent exposure. So, let’s just start calling it out on what it is.’
Conservative efforts to crack down on transgender participation in school sports have gained steam in recent years, particularly since Lia Thomas’ ascent.
It’s become a new culture war front and was even featured as a campaign issue in several races in the 2022 election.
The left and LGBTQ activists have pushed back, claiming that policies forcing students to participate in school activities designated by biological sex – rather than gender identity – is repressive to transgender youth.
As of now, 18 states have laws banning students from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity, according to the LGBT MAP project.