After years of asking runners who were participating in the famous Boston Marathon to run as the gender they originally qualified under, the Boston Athletic Association (the organization behind the event) is changing their tune.

Transgender People Have Been Competing for Years, Even if You Didn’t Notice

In a blog post on her website, transgender runner Amelia Gapin argued that the media sensationalized the story with headlines implying this will be the first year trans people participate in the marathon.

"Trans people usually don't make a big deal out of doing things. For the most part, we just live our lives as best as society allows us to. We do us. If you see something declared as a 'first' for transgender people, be very dubious," she wrote.

In a recent statement to NPR, the Boston Athletic Association said: "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."

The Guidelines for Competing as a Transgender Person

For years, people have argued that transgender women, in particular, would have an advantage over other females in the race due to their elevated testosterone levels.

A recent article about the race’s policy change sparked controversy, as it was titled “Five Men Claiming to be Transgender Women Will Compete as Females in Boston Marathon.” Many people argued that the title oversimplified the issue. For trans women to qualify in any races where there are awards or prize money to be won, they must:

  • Stay below certain testosterone levels for at least 12 months before their first competition.
  • Stay below certain testosterone levels throughout their eligibility to compete period.
  • Have publicly declared their gender identity as a woman or lived as a woman for at least four years.

This Isn’t The First Athletic Competition to Face These Issues

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio were one of the first to allow transgender athletes to participate in the games even if they had not gone through gender-affirming surgery. Again, there was some outcry from the public and other athletes that people assigned male at birth would have an advantage.

The Rio Games ultimately decided to let transgender women participate, so long as they could prove their testosterone levels were within a committee-determined “average” range.