We’ve seen a lot of progressive action when it comes to being inclusive in the classroom at schools across the country, and the inclusion mindset is rippling over to the world of sports. For the first time ever, transgender women will be permitted to compete as women in the New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston marathons. While there is still no official rule regarding how the trans runners will actually be dealt with, the organizers of the Boston Marathon have confirmed that competitors will be able to register using the gender that they identify with.
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) told the Associated Press. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
Marathon organizers of the New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago events have followed closely behind Boston and they have also shared that they allow people to register for races under the gender that they identify with.
“We want to be inclusive and sensitive to all of our participants. At this point, we don’t feel that we need to require legal or medical records or anything along those lines,” said Chicago Marathon executive race director Carey.
Athletes are required to have a government-issued identification that matches the gender that they are qualified under, in order to get a bib number for all of these races, which may get in the way of how officials will handle these cases. The qualification process may be interrupted if the person’s ID does not match the gender that they identify with.
The change in the qualification came as a result of three transgender women qualifying for this year’s Boston race. In addition to two other women, Stevie Romer, 53, Amelia Gapin, 35, and Grace Fisher, 37, are transgender women who qualified, and although they are not the first transgender women to compete in the race, this will be the first year that competitors will receive official acknowledgement from the BAA that they are competing as trans women.
In the past, some trans women didn’t even try to go through the qualification process as their chosen gender, while others tried qualifying under the radar.
Gapin, a software engineer from New Jersey, sees this as a major moment considering she went through complex and painful sex-assignment procedures in order to compete in the world’s most prestigious marathon.
This change in the rule isn’t free of criticism and critics tend to have more of an issue when it comes to transgender women versus transgender men competing in sporting events due to the fact that the elevated levels of testosterone are considered a potential advantage.
Prior to the 2016 Olympic Rio Games, the Olympic committee revised its rules and allowed transgender athletes to participate, however; female transgender athletes are now required to prove that their levels of testosterone are below a certain level, which is typically something that needs to be done with the help of a doctor.
Women have certainly come a long way, considering Kathrine Switzer was literally physically removed from the course during the 1967 Boston Marathon. Today, women make up a large percentage of competitors in the historical event.