female athlete transgender fairness Madison Kenyan
© Instagram / madi_kenyonCross-country and track runner Madison Kenyan is a campaigner for fairness in women’s sports
A female American college athlete has described the experience of being beaten by "biological males" as "extremely deflating", urging women in the state where a transitioned swimmer has broken records not to be afraid to talk.

Idaho track athlete Madison Kenyon went to court when the state's Fairness in Women's Sports Act, which bans trans women from competing in women's sports, faced a legal challenge.

Now 20, Kenyon said she was first beaten by a transgender rival as a 14-year-old, and is imploring fellow athletes to express their opinions in Pennsylvania, where Lia Thomas - formerly a biological male competitor called Will - has been breaking records in the pool.

Athletes and their families have tended to speak under anonymity when they have discussed the case publicly because of reputed fears of repercussions, and Kenyon worries that part of the problem is a reluctance from those affected to raise their voices to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and other bodies.

"I just want to say to the female athletes in Pennsylvania, don't let anyone silence you," Kenyon told FOX.

"Speak up: tell the NCAA, your athletic directors and your coaches that you want fair competition, because speaking up about this is nowhere near as scary as it seems and the amount of support is overwhelming."

Current NCAA rules dictate that transgender athletes can compete alongside collegiates born as women once they have completed 12 monhts of hormonal treatment.

Thomas, who has been accused of bragging about how easy she found sweeping to victory in the women's heats, is said to be two-and-a-half years into hormone replacement therapy.

That has not removed doubts from some about whether therapy can counter the athletic advantages that passing through puberty as a male is associated with.

"It's extremely deflating," Kenyon said of her defeats against trans participants. "I've experienced it five times, and each time I've lost to biological males.

"The fact that that's still happening - women are still losing to biological males in their own sport - shows why we need more female athletes to speak up about this."

Thomas was an average swimmer on the men's team but beat one of her nearest opponents by well over 30 seconds as a woman to advance to the national championships in Atlanta in March.

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed legislation into law in 2020 based upon the 'inherent, physiological differences between males and females'.

Lindsay Hecox, a Boise State University athlete, was joined by an unnamed 17-year-old student in challenging the laws on the basis that they were unconstitutional and a violation of rights.

Speaking to the American Civil Liberties Union, which supported her case, 19-year-old Hecox explained at the time: "What I want to do is just run, have a team, have friends on the team just supporting me and all of us running together.

"There's no vindictiveness there of me trying to take away girls' scholarships or trophies or places. I just want to be one of them — I am one of them."

Hecox said she had felt "othered" by the idea of a separate category for transgender atheltes.

"When I thought about training only as male or with other trans girls, it really shocked me," she said. "It would feel so embarrassing.

"I wasn't really sure what to do because I thought, 'oh, it's just another attempt to take away some rights.'

"When I feel this amount of sadness and emotion from a law like this passing, it makes me want to keep wanting to be an activist."

That debate was sparked by June Eastwood, of the University of Montana, winning a race at the Big Sky Indoor Championships of Pocatello in January 2020.

Eastwood had reportedly competed on the men's team for her first three years in school before finishing four seconds ahead of her nearest competitor in that race, with one of Kenyon's teammates trailing in fourth.

Eastwood is said to have taken testosterone suppressants for the 12 months required by the NCAA.

Speaking as part of the FOX discussion, attorney Kristen Waggoner said there is a "simple" answer.

"The law should be that biological women compete against biological women," she told the program.

"The NCAA policy doesn't require the University of Pennsylvania to deny a fair playing field to women.

"It doesn't require that at all - in fact, what it's doing is prioritizing activists over women athletes.

"By denying them a fair playing field, they're refusing, again, to recognize legitimate biological distinctions. That hurts women and girls the most."

A long-standing official of more than 30 years at USA Swimming has resigned over the issue, according to reports in the last 24 hours.

"I told my fellow officials that I can no longer participate in a sport which allows biological men to compete against women," Millen said in a letter recounted by the Washington Times in which she pulled out of the forthcoming US Paralympics Swimming National Championships.

"I can't do this, I can't support this. Everything fair about swimming is being destroyed."