Trans-Identified Male Wins Bronze In Women’s 400m At 2023 World Para Athletics Championships

A 49-year-old trans-identified male seized the bronze medal in the women’s 400m T12 running competition at the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris. Valentina Petrillo holds several women’s titles and had broken multiple women’s running records, but won his first women’s world championship medal at Chartley Stadium today.

Petrillo, born Fabrizio, was racing against Omara Durand of Cuba, Alejandra Perez Lopez of Venezuela, and Fatima Ezzahra El Idrissi of Morocco. Due to their visual disability, Durand and Lopez competed with guides, who were wearing bright yellow vests and assisted the women to ensure they stayed on the course of the track.

In the final result for the 400m race in the T12 visual impairments category, Petrillo took the bronze, displacing El Idrissi.

According to the World Para Athletics Championships guidance on participation, “an athlete shall be eligible to compete in women’s competition if she is recognized as female by law.” But their policy book goes on to note that it will “deal with any cases involving transgender athletes in accordance with the [International Olympic Committee’s] transgender guidelines.”

Peter Eriksson, the record-making former head coach for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic program, spoke to Reduxx on Petrillo’s bronze placement.

“It’s shocking to see that women’s opportunities to a medal were taken by a cheating 49-year-old male,” Eriksson said. “The International Paralympic Committee is diminishing the rights of fairness in women’s sport by allowing transgender athletes at their events.”

Eriksson calls the World Para Athletics guidelines a “cop-out,” noting that every sporting authority has the ability to create their own rules. He also says that World Para Athletics policy was adapted from that of World Athletics, which recently ruled that trans-identified males who underwent a male puberty were no longer eligible to participate in women’s championship competitions.

“It’s a cop-out not to make a stance in support of women in sport. It feels kind of like they are trying to push the blame onto the IOC,” Eriksson says. “They adapted World Athletics rules and should also adopt the World Athletics regulation on transgender and DSD participation.”

As previously reported by Reduxx, Petrillo currently holds 8 women’s running championship titles, but failed to earn even one while competing as a male. Petrillo first changed his name to Valentina and began taking estrogen in 2019. The following year, he began competing against female athletes and has since broken multiple Italian women’s running records.

Petrillo has been diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a disorder of the eye that causes retinal degeneration over time. Due to this visual impairment, he has been permitted to compete in both matches designated for women with disabilities, as well as those which are not.

In September 2020, Petrillo raced in the women’s 100-, 200- and 400-meter competitions at the Italian Paralympic Athletics Championships in Jesolo, despite not having undergone “gender affirming” surgery.

At the time, Petrillo hadn’t even updated his identification documents, which still listed his sex as male, though this did not prevent him from being entered into the match. He won first place in all three races and therefore qualified to represent Italy at the Tokyo Olympic Games. But after a last-minute intervention by the Italian government, Petrillo was barred from competing against women with disabilities at the Paralympics in 2021.

Petrillo participating in the women’s paralymics in 2020.

At the Master’s Athletics Championships in Arezzo in October 2020, Petrillo outpaced both Cristina Sanulli and Denise Neumann, both of whom had previously won world and European Masters titles and have been regarded as the best in their events. Sanulli and Neumann would later sign a petition calling for men to be barred from women’s sport.

In March of this year, Petrillo competed in and took the win at the 200m race for women aged 50 to 54 at the Italian Indoor Masters Championship in Ancona.

Leading up to the race, a women’s rights advocacy group called RadFem Italia contacted government officials to ensure that Petrillo would not be granted access to the women’s locker rooms. In response, Petrillo was provided with a designated changing room specifically for him at the race grounds.

Petrillo soon after lashed out in a Facebook post wherein he equated criticism of his presence in women’s sports to Nazism, telling detractors they were “on the same level as Hitler” and comparing sex-based sports categories to a 1936 ban on Jewish athletes.

Upset at being denied the use of the women’s locker room, Petrillo wrote, “In Ancona, you made me have a terrible time, it is not fair… you’ve relegated me to a ‘dedicated’ locker room,” a situation which he claimed was similar to the segregation of those called appestati, or sufferers of a plague.

Reduxx also previously revealed that Petrillo admitted that he used to “try on his mother’s clothes” when he was younger, a behavior that was considered a symptom of a sexual disorder known as transvestic fetishism until recently.

He has also said that prior to declaring a transgender identity he would steal his wife’s clothing. While describing a memory of “touching” his mother’s skirt for the first time, Petrillo said, “It was an incredible emotion. It was like touching heaven with your finger tip.”


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Anna Slatz

Anna is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reduxx, with a journalistic focus on covering crime, child predators, and women's rights. She lives in Canada, enjoys Opera, and kvetches in her spare time.

Anna Slatz
Anna Slatz
Anna is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reduxx, with a journalistic focus on covering crime, child predators, and women's rights. She lives in Canada, enjoys Opera, and kvetches in her spare time.
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