Officials with the iconic Boston Marathon say they will not add to the “burden” of the transgender community by questioning registrations of this year’s runners.
The 122nd running of the Boston Marathon will be held April 16 with at least five transgender racers among the pack of thousands. Participants say they have flown “under the radar” for years, although the advent of social media has made that harder to do.
Online message boards spotlighted this year’s transgender runners and sparked a fairness debate among academics and activists.
“If they still have male gonads, they will have an advantage over other women — there is no way around that,” Bob Girandola, associate professor in the Department of Human Biology at the University of Southern California told the Boston Herald on Monday. “It gives them an unfair advantage. Maybe they have to have a separate category if they’re going to do that. It’s a dilemma.”
Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, director of education and training programs at the Fenway Institute, a health and advocacy center for the Boston LGBT community, disagreed in an interview the Associated Press.
“That’s a misconception and a myth,” he said regarding performance boosts due to higher testosterone levels. “There’s no physiologic advantage to being assigned male at birth.”
Tom Grilk, chief of the Boston Athletic Association said the organization’s current policy is to “take people at their word.”
“We register people as they specify themselves to be,” he told AP. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
Transgender racer Amelia Gapin of New Jersey told AP that race organizers have historically treated registration as a “murky” issue.
“We are such a small percentage of the population that we generally just fly under the radar,” the athlete said.