CeCe Telfer is a Jamaican-American transgender athlete. In 2019, Telfer won the NCAA title and became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA title. Born in Jamaica as Craig Telfer, the youngest of three children raised by a single mom, Telfer was 12 when the family moved to Canada, the first in a string of relocations. Their mother was a traveling nurse, and they moved from house to house, school to school, until Telfer landed in Lebanon, New Hampshire, heading into her junior year of high school.
While in high school, she got a job at the town’s famous ice cream parlor and joined the track and field team. Telfer’s mother got a new job in New York her senior year, Telfer stayed behind, living alone and working after school to pay rent.
She attended Franklin Pierce University, where she was a member of the Franklin Pierce men’s track and field team in 2016 and 2017 before medically transitioning. Telfer competed in the men’s division as recently as January 2018 before undergoing gender reassignment surgery prior to the 2019 season.
Telfer and Franklin Pierce athletics administrators were meticulous as they followed NCAA guidelines for transgender student-athlete participation, ensuring Telfer’s eligibility in women’s track for the final indoor and outdoor seasons of her collegiate career.
Telfer won the women’s 400-meter hurdles national title at the 2019 NCAA Division II Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 25 in Kingsville, Texas.
CeCe Telfer Age
CeCe Telfer was born in Jamaica as Craig Telfer and raised in Canada. Growing up with Jamaican parents and family, she started running track at a young age.
CeCe Telfer Height
She stands at a height of 6 feet 2 inches.
CeCe Telfer Olympics
Transgender runner CeCe Telfer was ruled ineligible to compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic trials for not meeting the World Athletics eligibility regulations for certain women’s events.
In 2019, World Athletics released new guidelines that cut off international women’s events between 400 meters and a mile to athletes whose testosterone levels were at 5 nonomoles per liter (nmol/L) or more, according to ESPN.
To be eligible for an event, an athlete has to stay below the 5 nmol/L threshold for 12 months. In its guidelines, World Athletics says athletes can lower their testosterone level using an oral contraceptive pill, a monthly injection of a hormone therapy drug or by surgery to remove their testicles.
Telfer’s manager, David McFarland, said Telfer would respect the decision. McFarland said: “CeCe has turned her focus towards the future and is continuing to train. She will compete on the national — and world — stage again soon.”
USATF said in a statement: “Following notification from World Athletics on June 17 that the conditions had not yet been met, USATF provided CeCe with the eligibility requirements and, along with World Athletics, the opportunity to demonstrate her eligibility so that she could compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. According to subsequent notification to CeCe from World Athletics on June 22, she has not been able to demonstrate her eligibility.”
In the statement, USATF said it “strongly supports inclusivity and providing a clear path to participation in the sport for all, while also maintaining competitive fairness.”
“If CeCe meets the conditions for transgender athlete participation in the future, we wholeheartedly back her participation in international events as a member of Team USATF,” the statement said.
CeCe Telfer Transition
CeCe Telfer medically transitioned in a process that included more than 12 months of testosterone suppression along with daily estrogen pills, regular doctor exams and bloodwork.
Telfer’s not the first or only transgender student-athlete to compete in college sports. In 2005, Keelin Godsey, a Division III national champion in the women’s hammer throw, transitioned from female to male during his time at Bates College. Godsey came out as a transgender man after his junior year in 2005, making him the first openly transgender athlete in the NCAA. Already a national champion in the women’s hammer throw, Godsey chose not to medically transition in college to remain on the Bates women’s team.
In the 1970s, Renée Richards was among the first transgender athletes in the United States to garner attention. Richards was a tennis player who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1975 at the age of 40 and moved from New York to California with the hopes of starting a new life as a woman. But she was outed as transgender while playing in a tennis tournament, prompting the U.S. Tennis Association to ban her from women’s competition at the U.S. Open. Richards subsequently sued the USTA and won, setting the stage for her to compete in the 1977 U.S. Open.
In 2004, the International Olympic Committee opened its doors for transgender athletes who met three criteria: hormonal therapy, legal recognition of their assigned sex and surgical anatomical changes, “including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy” —requirements that have since loosened.
According to NCAA’s guidelines for transgender student-athletes, a “transgender male athlete (assigned female at birth and identifies as a male) can compete on a men’s or women’s team unless he receives a medical exception to take testosterone; if he takes testosterone, he can compete only on a men’s team. For a transgender female athlete (assigned male at birth and identifies as a female), competition on a women’s team is permissible after undergoing 12 months of testosterone suppression treatment.”
CeCe Telfer Before Transition
Before medically transitioning, CeCe Telfer had been a member of the Franklin Pierce men’s track team for three years.
CeCe Telfer Surgery
CeCe Telfer underwent gender reassignment surgery. According to guidelines by the World Athletics, athletes can lower their testosterone level using an oral contraceptive pill, a monthly injection of a hormone therapy drug or by surgery to remove their testicles.