Athletics: Transgender woman CeCe Telfer, who previously competed as a man, wins NCAA track championship

CeCe Telfer ahead of her race.
CeCe Telfer ahead of her race. Photo credit: Franklin Pierce University.

A transgender woman has won a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship in athletics. 

CeCe Telfer, who was born and raised as Craig Telfer, won the women's 400-meter hurdles national title at the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships for Franklin Pierce University.

Telfer won the final with a time of 57.53s. Second-place was way back in 59.21s.

Telfer also earned All-American First Team honours with a fifth-place finish in the 100m hurdles earlier in the day .

Before joining the women's team this season, she competed against other men and was ranked outside the top 200 runners in college athletics. In 2016 and 2017, Telfer ranked 200th and 390th, respectively, and she didn't compete in 2018.

Franklin Pierce University head coach Zach Emerson praised Telfer for her efforts.

"It was tough conditions out here with the wind and the heat over the last three days but, as she has over the last six months, CeCe proved herself to be tough enough to handle it," he said.

"Today was a microcosm of her entire season; she was not going to let anything slow her down. I've never met anybody as strong as her mentally in my entire life."

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, NCAA allows male athletes to compete as women if they suppress their testosterone levels for a full calendar year.

Middle distance runner Tamsyn Manou, who has won three Commonwealth Games gold medals, told 2GB in Australia she's concerned the female category isn't being protected enough in elite women's sport at the moment.

"I know that it's a grey area… but it really concerns me," she explained. 

"I think that it's important that people understand it's not about gender identity. This is an issue that is surrounding what you were born as, biologically what your sex is.

"There is just way too much advantage with a male competing against a female."

Testosterone levels in athletics have been a big discussion point after South African 800m runner Caster Semenya was told by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) she must take testosterone-suppressing medication to lower her testosterone levels to compete.

Semenya is appealing the decision.

Closer to home, there is continuous debate over Kiwi transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.

Hubbard, 41, born Gavin Hubbard, represented New Zealand as a male and was cleared to compete as a woman in 2017.