Transgender policy in Hawaii high school sports is being challenged

Cynthia Monteleone is on a quest to educate people on what she perceives as unfairness in Hawaii high school athletics.

Monteleone, a track and field coach at Lahainaluna and a world champion age group runner (40-44) in the 400 meters, sent a complaint to the Department of Education’s civil rights office last week.

In the complaint, she states that allowing male to female transgender athletes to compete in girls sports is unfair and a violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which is responsible for running state tournaments in all sanctioned sports, has a policy of inclusion for transgender athletes, similar to 17 other U.S. states, according to Simply put, the HHSAA allows athletes to participate based on their gender identitywithout the requirement of gender reassignment surgery.

The complaint stems from a Kamehameha-Maui athlete who participated in girls volleyball in the fall and is now taking part in track and field.

Subscribers can click here to read more about the issue in the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Monteleone was at a recent Maui Interscholastic League meet and timed the Kamehameha-Maui athlete in the 400 meters. She recorded the athlete’s splits at 100 and 200 meters at approximately 12 and 26 seconds — times that are comparable to the best girls marks (12.39 and 25.82) from the 2019 Hawaii track and field season.

Monteleone also pointed out that 334 boys statewide finished 100-meter races with faster times than the the best girl (12.39) last year. That data can be found for premium subscribers at

“I am all for inclusion,” Monteleone said. “But there are basic physical advantages that male athletes have over female athletes, and the current HHSAA policy is discriminatory against female athletes. And there is also evidence that male to female transgender athletes who have had hormone suppression or gender reassignment surgery (requirements for transgender athletes at various levels of sports, including high school athletics in some states) still have those advantages.”

According to, 10 state high school sports associations in the U.S. base eligibility on the gender of an athlete at birth unless the athlete has had gender reassignment surgery.

The Kamehameha-Maui student has not had gender reassignment surgery.

The athlete’s parents want what’s best for their child.

“We love and support our daughter and want to see her succeed and thrive in all she aspires to achieve,” the parents wrote in a statement. “Playing (sports) gives her an outlet to do just that. Her well-being is most important to us.”

Kamehameha-Maui fully supports the athlete’s right to play for the girls teams.

“Ensuring that transgender students are supported in schools has been an emerging topic throughout the nation,” head of school Scott Parker wrote in a statement. “Kamehameha Schools affirms its support of transgender students in our learning community. It’s not something any of us has taken lightly. We are engaging with parents to respond to any concerns they may have.”

Monteleone has not heard back from the DOE, other than a confirmation of receipt of the complaint. In the meantime, she’ll keep spreading the word for what she feels is right.

“This is not a personal issue,” she said. “It’s a policy issue. … I’m raising this complaint because women deserve fairness in athletics. … It’s not a right-wing thing. I will continue to speak up, and I hope others will speak up for equality.”

The DOE responded to a request for commemt Sunday morning with this statement:

“HIDOE guides all public schools to support transgender students and to provide a safe and nurturing environment in both academics and athletics. Students are allowed to participate in recreational gym class activities and in-school sports in accordance with their sincerely held gender identity.”


  1. Recruited not Rooted March 8, 2020 2:51 pm

    Thank you Cynthia. This is such a joke, especially without gender reassignment surgery, but even with it too they still have an unfair advantage. Doesn’t surprise me though, this is Hawaii and people continue to elect Crazy Mazie. I have no problem with trans but if you don’t want to participate with those that were born the same sex as you then start a trans only league. Now pass the potatoes!

  2. Hau'ulaBoy March 8, 2020 4:08 pm


  3. 88 March 8, 2020 4:29 pm

    This is the world we live in now, where we value the feelings and wellbeing of a few over that of many. I am sure the parents have nothing but the best intentions when it comes to their son BUT what about the 100 or more other female athletes around the state? Do their feelings and wellbeing matter? Just make every sport coed already. Problem solved.

  4. Truthhurts March 8, 2020 5:00 pm

    Nobody likes to be told NO or you cant… everybody’s opinion matters these days …Everyone likes to challenge rules …rules are made to keep order….. too much Chiefs not enough Indians

  5. Nicholas Abramo March 8, 2020 5:14 pm

    There are no easy answers.

    There is a trend toward inclusiveness in our society that is backed by law, which I personally feel is a good thing.

    But the complaints against possible dominance of athletes who were born male and identify as girls playing against girls who were not born male and have always identified as girls appears to be valid, too.

    The lawsuit in Connecticut may end up giving us at least a temporary answer. My guess is it ends up going to the Supreme Court.

  6. Just-wondering March 8, 2020 6:46 pm

    Agree with the Coach.

    The reason why we should not allow transgenders to play against females is they have an unfair physical advantage over them.

    I don’t see how a male who identifies female “has to” compete against other females in order to be considered “included”. Isn’t playing the game the most important part? Is there a reason why they couldn’t/shouldn’t play in male leagues? If they weren’t allowed to play with the males then that would be exclusion.

  7. Recruited not Rooted March 8, 2020 10:13 pm

    @ 5 I know you’re trying to be PC in your position but they don’t identify as girls, they are girls. Pass the potatoes.

  8. T103 March 9, 2020 5:30 am

    Agree, this is absurd. Sports events and competitions around the world have seen males who identify as females compete in the female category and totally dominating. There is that story of that high school wrestler on the mainland who was born male but is competing as a female and winning championships, and its not even close competition. Why is it that we haven’t heard of any stories of female-to male athletes winning in the guys categories? B/C of the simple fact that guys bodies are built differently move and work differently then girls, and vice versa, so of course if you place a guy in the girls category and have them compete in the same sport, the guys have the advantage for strength and speed. Thats just how it is, so of course it’s unfair for girls born girls when guys compete against them. Hormone therapy or gender re-assignment doesn’t level the playing field.

  9. ??? March 9, 2020 9:49 am

    No gender surgery; No switching sides in sports!
    In prison, you get locked up by what you have below; even if you grow breast but still have male genitalia you will be locked up with men (Period).
    Can a male who identifies as female without the surgery shower with the females in their locker room? Or female in male locker room? “No No No”.

  10. DeLoyce and Patri Alcorn July 31, 2020 7:33 pm

    I think females that are in an event where a biological male competes in a female event, they should as one refuse to participate. All females in that event should stand as one. It should be a female event. If they did this in solidarity this situation should resolve itself. They should not validate this unfair situation by participating in the event.

  11. Adrienne October 9, 2020 12:34 pm

    Agree! This is not fair to my daughters or sons. Growing up in Hawai’i we all play together for fun, but when it comes time to compete, even the mahus knew to play with the boys. Nowadays, IDK. FYI, Gabbard and Shatz support this rule 🤯#yourvotematters

  12. Diane SAunders June 23, 2021 3:22 am

    Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 expressly prohibits discrimination in any educational program or activity … on the basis of sex. The Supreme Court, in Bostock v. Clayton County Georgia, in 2020, expressly held that to discriminate on the basis of sex necessarily means discrimination on the basis of gender identity, therefore, it is unlawful to so discriminate. While the Bostock case involved Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the reasoning in Bostock applies to Title IX cases. Transgender athletes must be given the opportunity to participate in the sport which most closely aligns with their gender identity. This complaint and all the state laws being enacted to prevent the inclusion of transgender athletes in interscholastic and intercollegiate sports will fail based on Supreme Court precedent.

  13. James June 27, 2021 9:27 am

    Please, this woman’s “mentor”, who trained world class athletes experimented with injecting l carnosine intramuscularly which guess WHAT? Has ANABOLIC affects when done properly and she is worried about a level playing field?????

  14. Gina S. March 24, 2022 3:45 am

    She is a record holder in “ pay to play” Master’s. There are many runners faster than Cynthia at her age. A lot cannot afford to go to World. Plus I did not think USA had an actual team. Sadly, I saw a video she made of a transgender CHILD running making disparaging remarks. The transgendered child’s parents have shown way more grace than I would have. The disgust in her voice was apparent to all of us who saw the video. That she has actually said “ bring compassion” is a joke. This has everything to do with promoting herself. As another poster said her mentor was an expert on doping in sports and found a way to use vitamin c and l carnosine together which produces anabolic results. Note the word “ anabolic”.

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