Publisher's Note: Examining a blow to fairness in high school athletics


Congratulations to the true winner in the girls 400-meter at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) State Championship Meet in Tacoma: Lauren Matthew, of the West Valley School District.

This past week's girls track state championship has sparked controversy about something we are hearing more often: the participation of transgender athletes in high school sports.

At this event, a 16-year-old transgender individual (a biological male) high school runner from the East Valley School District in Spokane finished the girls 400-meter race with a time of 55.75 seconds — a full second ahead of the first-place biologically female runner.

This outcome has prompted concerns about the integrity and fairness of competitive athletics. We must reassess the rules governing high school sports to ensure a level playing field for all athletes.

In our state, the WIAA allows transgender students to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity. This policy raises serious questions about competitive fairness.

The WIAA does not require medical or hormonal criteria for participation, meaning that students can compete based on their self-identified gender.

Looking at neighboring states, we see a range of approaches. Oregon, like Washington, permits transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity, potentially placing biologically female athletes at a disadvantage.

In contrast, Idaho has taken a more definitive stance with the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act," which mandates that athletes participate based on their sex assigned at birth. This law aims to preserve the integrity of female sports by ensuring that biological differences do not unfairly skew competition.

ESPN provided an in depth look at each state's policies in an article titled “Transgender athlete laws by state: Legislation, science, more.” I will provide a link to that article below for more context.

While Idaho’s mandate may appear to offer a solution, it raises significant concerns. For instance, how does the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” address biological females who are undergoing testosterone replacement therapy to transition to male? Should these athletes still compete against other women despite taking testosterone? This situation seems unfair to all participants involved. An alternative proposal is to create an "open" category where anyone can compete, regardless of gender, alongside a "female" category reserved for cisgender and transgender women who meet specific criteria. While this might address some issues of fairness, it also raises the question: does this approach undermine men's sports?

The primary concern for many athletes, parents and coaches is the principle of fairness in competition. Biological differences between males and females can have a significant impact on performance in sports, particularly in events that rely on physical strength, speed and endurance.

Allowing transgender girls (biological males) to compete in female categories can create an uneven playing field, undermining the hard work and dedication of biologically female athletes. We must ask ourselves whether current policies truly reflect the values of fair competition. Ensuring that all athletes have an equal opportunity to compete and succeed should be our foremost priority.

Given the current stance of the WIAA and its commitment to maintaining its existing policies, it is unlikely that meaningful change will come from within the organization. The WIAA's approach to inclusivity does not adequately address the fundamental issues of competitive fairness. 

It’s my belief that our only viable option is to pursue legislative action at the state level. Advocating for laws similar to Idaho's "Fairness in Women's Sports Act," we can ensure that the integrity of high school sports is preserved and that all athletes have an equal opportunity to compete on a level playing field. 

It is crucial that we take decisive steps to protect the future of high school athletics and uphold the principles of fairness and competition.

For more on transgender athlete laws by state, visit    

For more on the WIAA’s policy, visit

Chad Taylor is owner and publisher of The Chronicle. He can be reached at