- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2024

Oregon teen Aayden Gallagher is a favorite to win a girls’ high school state track-and-field title this week after smoking the competition during the season, and critics say that’s because the sophomore runner is a biological male.

The 16-year-old McDaniel High School student qualified for the 2024 Oregon School Activities Association Track and Field State Championships by winning gold in the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes at last week’s Portland Scholastic League Championships.

The state championships, which run Thursday through Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, are sponsored by Oregon-based Nike.

The victories came after a season in which Gallagher consistently placed first or second in the two events, drawing the ire of advocates of single-sex female sports.

“Aaaaaand here we go again,” elite U.S. ultrarunner Carilyn Johnson wrote on X. “And DO NOT come on here and say the girls should just refuse to compete. The ADULTS are the problem, and we all know it. Stop telling kids that one boy’s ‘feelings’ matter more than every other girl they compete against.”

She linked to a video published by Reduxx and the Publica showing Gallagher easily striding past the female competition in the 400m semifinal, finishing five seconds ahead of the second-place runner.

For a sense of how lopsided that is, at the most recent Olympics, the gap in the 400-meter final between the gold medalist and the last-placed finisher was less than 1 1/2 seconds among the men and 2 1/2 seconds among the women.

Mara Yamachi, a two-time British Olympian, called the race “a clear illustration of the male advantage. All females finish close together. He is way ahead. Everyone who allows males in the Female category should hang their heads in shame!”

Gallagher‘s first-place times in the finals were much closer, and yet none of the teen’s finishes would have been fast enough even to qualify for the boys’ championship race, much less capture a podium slot.

Gallagher finished with a time of 55.31 seconds in the girls’ 400 meters. The winner of the boys’ event posted a time of 50.26 and the eighth-place runner passed the finish line at 53.06, as shown on Athletic.net.

In the boys’ 200 meters, the winning time was 21.85 and the ninth-place finisher clocked in at 22.94. Gallagher won the girls’ race with a time of 23.77.

Other high school transgender athletes have enjoyed girls’ track-and-field success this year at meets in Connecticut and New Hampshire, fueling the debate over inclusion versus fairness in female sports.

Despite the outrage, there’s little chance that Gallagher will be prevented from running for a state title.

The OSAA policy says that “once a transgender student has notified the student’s school of their gender identity, the student shall be consistently treated as that gender for purposes of eligibility for athletics and activities.”

Nike has featured transgender athletes in ad campaigns for years. Last year, the athletic apparel giant sparked an uproar by teaming up with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who hawked the Oregon-based brand by wearing its bras and leggings in TikTok videos.

In addition, blue-state Oregon has no Save Women’s Sports law banning biological males from female scholastic sports, unlike 24 more conservative states.

The Washington Times has reached out to the OSAA and Nike for comment.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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