The Boston Marathon is making great strides in accepting all members of the LGBT community, as it has publicly acknowledged that transgender runners can compete using the gender they identify with.
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” says Tom Grilk, chief of the Boston Athletic Association, the group behind the race. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
After the Boston Marathon clarified its stance on the issue, other major marathons have followed suit. Organizers of the Chicago, New York City, London and Los Angeles marathons all said they honor the gender that runners submit during sign-ups.
“We want to be inclusive and sensitive to all of our participants,” says Carey Pinkowski, Chicago Marathon executive race director. “At this point, we don’t feel that we need to require legal or medical records or anything along those lines.”
Many marathons, however — including Boston, New York and Chicago — require runners to show an ID with the same name and gender as their application form, which can be an obstacle for trans athletes who haven’t legally changed their personal information.
Still, the announcement is a great step forward in the process of including transgender people in sports, making sure they’re able to compete in the category assigned to their gender identity.
Stevie Romer, a transgender woman from Woodstock, Illinois, says she registered for the Boston Marathon as a woman because that’s what she is. “To be able to experience it as me was really, really important,” she says. “I’ve been a runner since as long as I can remember. I love running, but I just happen to be transgender.”