The Big Sky Conference has named a transgender athlete as its female cross country runner of the week.
June Eastwood, who formerly competed as Jonathan Eastwood, joined the women’s cross-country team at the University of Montana this fall.
Eastwood became the first transgender athlete to compete on an NCAA Division I women’s running team, and was honored by the Big Sky Conference this week.
“June Eastwood finished second in a field of 204 runners at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, Calif. Eastwood clocked a time of 20:18 in the 6k race to help Montana place seventh as a team,” the conference said Tuesday in a news release announcing the award.
— Big Sky Conference (@BigSkyConf) October 22, 2019
Eastwood has not finished below seventh in any of the University of Montana’s races this fall.
Eastwood won the Montana Invitational in early October and finished third at the Montana State Classic last month, according to the Missoulian.
Eastwood, who had been a competitive runner on the men’s squad for three years, stopped competing for about a year and half before emerging this fall for what, in a YouTube interview, Eastwood called “the storm.”
Eastwood is aware of criticism that surrounds the issue of transgender athletes on women’s teams, but said, “I didn’t want to give up doing what I love just because of who I am.”
To meet NCAA guidelines, Eastwood has been taking testosterone-suppressing drugs for the past year.
However, the issue of runners born as men competing with biological women remains controversial.
In Connecticut, three high school athletes have sued over the state’s policy of letting transgender athletes compete against biological women, saying the policy is unfair to biological women, according to CBS News.
The problem with the current NCAA rules are that you have to lower T for a year prior to competing as a woman, but there is no testing or ongoing monitoring. Is June Eastwood still lowering T as her times drop to All-American caliber? No one knows.
— Erik Charter Track! (@echartertrack) October 21, 2019
June Eastwood is a male! How’s he the female athlete of the week??! Stop this nonsense ffs!!
— فرحFreeLoujain# (@_almalika_Fara7) October 24, 2019
June Eastwood’s personal best at 800m is 1.55.23. Fairly ordinary for Division 1 male runner. But this is ELITE level against women. June is young and has many years to continue to train post transition and to start breaking women’s World Records. https://t.co/VmPyQxKJhX
— FairPlayForWomen (@fairplaywomen) October 24, 2019
But Eastwood has the backing of his coach.
Brian Schweyen, head coach of the University of Montana’s track and field program, said he’s fully supportive of Eastwood’s decision to compete on the women’s team.
“There will be mistakes made and lessons learned,” Schweyen said.
“But those lessons will be fantastic.”
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