The Boston Marathon has taken a public stance on transgender athletes for the 26.2 mile race: If you sign up as a woman, then you're going to be recorded as a woman. The debate of whether or not it's fair for trans women to run as women has raged on in elite athletic competitions for some time, but the Boston Marathon says 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," said the chief of the Boston Athletic Association Tom Grilk, via Boston.com. "Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we'd rather not add to that burden."
According to the Associated Press, at least five openly transgender women are signed up to run this year's Boston Marathon. In March, a blog raised the issue of three openly trans women that had already signed up for Boston. The marathon doesn't check medical records, and according to the AP, via the Boston Globe, neither do the Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City or London marathons. They simply take what's written at face value. The only snag is in the event of recent gender reassignment, as most major marathons do require an ID with a name and gender that matches registration. Meaning, if information hasn't been updated, it may get flagged.
In 2016, the Olympics allowed trans athletes to compete in female competitions at certain testosterone levels. One common argument is that transgender women have a physical advantage. However, Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, the director of education and training programs at the Fenway Institute, (which also serves as a health and advocacy center for the LGBT community in Boston) doesn't agree with the assessment that transgender women have a competitive edge.
"That's a misconception and a myth," he told the AP. "There's no physiologic advantage to being assigned male at birth."