The University of Montana has its newest cross-country star. The sports’ first ever male-to-female transgender athlete to compete in NCAA Division I, and on August 31st she is going to change the sport for forever.
“(I’m) nervous and excited. Nervous for what that means and how people will react, but excited because I haven’t competed in 15 months, and excited to get this started,” Eastwood told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Juniper, formerly Jonathan, Eastwood, naming herself after the tree, was an extremely talented and gifted high-school men’s track and cross-country racer. While in high school, Eastwood accomplished a number of impressive feats, including multiple wins in men’s state title races. This would lead the athlete to receiving interest from a number of colleges to continue this decorated career, ultimately choosing to attend and race at UM.
According to an article published by Breitbart, “Eastwood spent three years running for the men’s cross-country and track teams. In 2016 and 2017, she ran the best times of anyone on her team at the Big Sky Conference championships. At her last tack meet in 2018, she placed seventh in the 1,500 meter conference championship race. She was, by all accounts, a competitive and successful male runner.
However, during the fall of her third season competing for UM, Eastwood came to terms with an internal struggle she’d had since elementary school. She no longer wanted to live and compete as a man when she knew she was a woman.”
“I felt kind of stuck. I had done this running thing for so long and was pretty miserable doing it, because I was pretty miserable in men’s racing,” Eastwood said. This was also after suffering a bad leg injury that would sideline the athlete for some time. But upon healing and not before taking testosterone-suppressors, that mindset would completely change. “I felt like I still had more years in me, and that I would regret it later on if I didn’t at least try to do what I am doing.”
Brian Schweyen, UM’s track and field coach, has shown his full support for Eastwood, claiming that the NCAA decides what is and is not fair and he will trust their decision. “There will be mistakes made and lessons learned. But those lessons will be fantastic,” Schweyen said.
Tom Wistrcill, commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, has stated that so long as universities follow NCAA guidelines, the conference supports and encourages all athletes to compete. Everyone wants all athletes to compete, that isn’t the point. Just compete against men if you’ve done so you’re entire life and vice versa, why is this so difficult?
However, Eastwood is not the first trans athlete to compete in college or professional sports and most likely will not be the last. There have been multiple weightlifters that transitioned from male to female and went on to almost immediately break world records in the women’s division. Other runners and swimmers have had similar stories. One of these stories even caught Donald Trump Jr’s attention:
Yet another grave injustice to so many young women who trained their entire lives to achieve excellence. Identify however you want, to each his own, but this is too far and unfair to so many. Biological Male Is Top-Ranked NCAA Women’s Track Star. https://t.co/4YqNcVLMSF — Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 26, 2019
CeCe Tefler is a track and field athlete who competed in the hurdles for Franklin Pierce University on the men’s team in 2016 and 2017. She took a year off to begin hormone treatment and came back in 2019 to compete on the women’s track team. Telfer earned an NCAA Division II National Championship title last spring and the president made sure to tweet his disapproval.
I mean, it should be a no brainer as to why many transgender athletes, especially male-to-female, have an extreme unfair advantage over their competition in women’s divisions. Studies have shown it, new records being broken shows it, what more do people need?
Regardless, Eastwood has been in full compliance with the NCAA policies about transgender athletes competing. She has been taking testosterone-suppression pills for 12 months, which is what the NCAA requires, and claims to have lost muscle and gotten slower. I guess we will see when she races.