With so much recent public conversation about trans women in women’s sports, I was struck by a post by trans advocate Schuyler Bailar — a trailblazing former NCAA athlete — claiming three trans women who have ever won national or international competitions in the women’s category “don’t exist.”
Off the top of my head I could name several, and a little digging found at least 10 trans women who have earned national or international victories.
No doubt, Lia Thomas, the out trans swimmer at Penn who just won four Ivy League titles, hasn’t won a national championship; She will compete for multiple national titles in a couple weeks. And no out trans woman has won an Olympic medal in the women’s category (Canadian soccer player Quinn is nonbinary).
Still, many more than two trans women have won national or international competitions, with others doing very well, including state and regional titles.
Here are 10 trans women who have won national or international competitions — all competing within the rules — in the women’s category. And if we missed anyone, please do let us know.
The volleyball player was a big part of the team that won the 2022 Brazilian Cup. Abreu came out several years earlier, stating she wanted to play in the Olympics. She was not selected by Brazil to compete in Tokyo.
Cooper won the women’s 2019 national championship for bench press in the super heavyweight division.
Michelle Dumaresq had fits and starts competing in the women’s category about two decades ago. Ultimately she won the right to compete and won the 2003 Canadian National Championships in downhill mountain biking. @michelledumaresq1
The Olympic weightlifter won two Oceania Championships and two Commonwealth Championships, amongst many gold medals she won during her competition years, adding a World Masters Games title in 2017, when she won a silver in the World Championships.
Ivy is a two-time masters world champion, notably winning the 2018 UCI World Masters Track Cycling Championships in her age category. Ivy was quickly denounced with hateful social-media messages. She continues to weather that storm, and she has been a vocal proponent of trans inclusion in sports. @drveronicaivy
In 2008, Lawless won the Long Drivers of America competition, hitting a 254-yard drive against a strong headwind wind in the final round, winning a $12,500 prize.
Petrillo has won multiple Italian national championships both before and after transitioning. She had hoped to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics but was barred due to a change in classification. @valentina_petrillo
Telfer won the Division II NCAA championship in the 400-meter hurdles as a senior at Franklin Pierce University in 2019. She was named Outsports’ Female Athlete of the Year that year. @cecetelfer
Natalie van Gogh
Other athletes in the conversation
Also of note is Australian trans handball player Hannah Mouncey. While she didn’t win a national or international competition that we’re aware of, the trans woman was named to Australia’s national handball team and competed internationally.
Renee Richards made it to the final of the U.S. Open in the women’s doubles category in 1977. Pro golfer Mianne Bagger won regional titles in Australia but never won a tournament championship after joining the women’s pro tour.
At the state level, Terry Miller won state titles in Connecticut — with fellow trans girl Andraya Yearwood finishing second — and also won regional New England championships.
Caroline Layt was part of a 4x200-meter team that set an Australian national record.
There are various other successful trans women who may not have won a “championship” or, including MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who won a couple bouts but lost in the final of one tournament. Alana McLaughlin has also won a professional MMA bout.
We at Outsports want to make sure no one erases the history of trans women — or any LGBTQ people — in sports. If we missed anyone else, please do let us know in the comments and we will add them.