Boston Marathon officials have announced that men claiming to be transgender women, will be allowed to compete in the women’s category for this year’s race, reports say.
Organizers of the famed race, which started in 1967 for men only, told the media that they will now allow people to register in whatever category they “specify themselves to be,” according to ABC News.
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” said Tom Grilk, chief of the Boston Athletic Association. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
The announcement is a break with the recent past where no official stance on the matter was taken. In the last few years, transgender runners simply signed up and ran without the imprimatur of the group overseeing the race.
ABC notes that five men have already signed up in the women’s category for the 2018 race to be held on April 16.
— Kaeley Triller (@KaeleyT) April 8, 2018
Several other big city marathons are also pondering new recognition for transgender contestants. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and even the UK’s London marathon committees, are moving to formally accept transgender runners.
ABC, though, decried one common rule where race entrants are required to present a photo ID matching their proclaimed gender status. Many transgender people do not assume their claimed gender full time meaning many have photo IDs taken corresponding to their birth gender, not their assumed status. Transgender advocates say this rule is “unfair” ABC noted.
The question of men claiming to be transgender women is not just a problem for marathons. The issue has been a thorny question for professional sports, colleges and high schools, and even the Olympics.
Last year the International Olympics Committee announced that it would allow men claiming to be women to compete as long as they have reduced their levels of testosterone to certain levels in an effort to dull the natural, physical advantage that natural-born males have over natural-born female athletes.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.