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Transgender Runners Can Race Boston Marathon Under Identified Gender

Photo caption:

Photo by Kayana Szymczak Getty Images

Children climb the barrier to watch the Boston Marathon runners in the iconic "scream tunnel" near Wellesley College on April 17, 2017, in Wellesley, Ma.

Transgender runners who qualify can take part in the Boston Marathon as their identified gender, according to Boston Marathon officials.

The issue has garnered attention following a profile in Canadian Running of three transgender women signed up for the race.

Comments to the article included reservation from readers that the elevated testosterone levels would potentially bump other women from the race, who would otherwise have qualified.

Though there is no explicit policy on trans runners, according to the Boston Athletic Association, the organizers behind the marathon, runners have been asked for "several years" to compete in the marathon with the same gender identity which they qualified. In a statement to NPR, the association says:

"We don't require that runners outline their gender identity history with us, so we can't say for certain how many trans runners are in our race. We do know that we have had several transgender runners in the past."

Still, the thought of registering for a competition under her identified gender is what inspired and pushed Amelia Gapin to undergo surgery, she tells Women's Running. Gapin is a software engineer, transgender activist and one of the three women profiled. She says that post-surgery recovery time made her reluctant to undergo gender confirmation surgery, but the thought of achieving one of her biggest goals — running in the Boston Marathon — pushed her to surgery.

At the levels of elite competition, registering under one's identified gender has been more of an issue for transgender athletes who were assigned male at birth. The Olympics revisited its guidelines ahead of the 2016 Rio Games allowing athletes to participate without gender confirmation surgery, but requiring female transgender registrants to prove their testosterone levels did not exceed a certain amount.

New York and Chicago Marathons have also said that runners can participate under their qualifying gender. In the case of Boston, registrants are required to show a government-issued ID to get a bib number. The BAA says, "We do compare the ID with the person's qualification-associated gender description."

The organization has not said specifically how it would handle cases when a registrant's ID differs from the gender they qualified under, but it tells NPR:

"Should such a situation arise, we would make every effort to address it in a manner intended to be fair to all concerned, with a strong emphasis on inclusion."

The Boston Marathon is scheduled for Monday, April 16.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


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