Team USA athlete says she was told to keep her 'mouth shut' about competing against trans athlete

Track star Cynthia Monteleone expresses concern for cis female athletes ahead of National Girls and Women in Sports Day

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FIRST ON FOX: Team USA World Masters track athlete Cynthia Monteleone said she was advised to keep quiet after she raised concerns over a fair playing field when competing against transgender athletes.

"Words can’t describe how I felt walking up to that starting line in Spain next to a biological male-bodied athlete," Monteleone told Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenns., in an interview first obtained by Fox News ahead of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. 

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Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS)

The track athlete faced her first encounter in competing against a biologically born male during the 2018 World Masters Athletics Championships in Málaga, Spain, when she ran against Yanelle Del Mar Zape, a transgender athlete from Colombia in a 400-meter race. 

Monteleone asked officials on the field why there was a "male-bodied athlete" in her meet. 

"The European officials were actually very sympathetic, and they stopped the meet," she described. The track star said the officials conferred with one another but then advised her that she needed to address her concerns with Team USA after the meet.  

Monteleone beat Zape by a few tenths of a second, but immediately following the race she approached Team USA Track and Field to express her concerns.

"They told me: ‘For your own safety you should probably keep your mouth shut’," she told the senator in her Facebook Live show, "Unmuted with Martha." 

The track athlete questioned the "psychological trauma" that cisgender female competitors — females who identify with the sex they were biologically born as — suffer when faced with the prospect of competing against someone who was born biologically male. 

"I don’t believe in keeping quiet about something that is so grossly unfair," she added.

Monteleone explained that not only is there a physical toll when training to be a champion, but sacrifices also have to be made when it comes to friends and family. 

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But the Hawaii track star has another reason to be angry with the physical advantages biological males have over cis female athletes — her daughter shares her dream of competing on the track. 

Monteleone explained that in her very first meet at the high school level, her daughter, then in the ninth grade, was forced to compete with a transgender athlete. 

"She had to line up for her very first race, after training all year, along a biological male," Monteleone said, describing how the trans athlete had only trained for two weeks but "blew everybody away in the first 100 meters."

"So she came in second," Monteleone said. "And you know what’s at stake are things that are important: prize money, scholarships, awards."

 "She deserved to win. She put in the work. But she had no chance because of the biological advantage of this male-bodied athlete," she added. 

President Biden on his first day in office issued an executive order that said student-athletes should compete under the sex they identify as.

The decision has prompted a tug-of-war over how to fairly implement a policy that allows transgender athletes to compete without striping women and girls of their rights under Title IX.

"We’ve warned of this — this is the end of female sports," Monteleone said. "Unfortunately the current administration is putting a nail in the coffin."

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"Let’s have compassion for everyone," Monteleone said. "But with the policies that have been given, they are excluding female athletes — biological females.

"I would encourage all females to stand up and think about that word brave. Have that courage and focus on what’s at stake for the future," she added. "The bottom line is female-bodied athletes deserve their chance for accolades and awards and scholarships."