Transgender runner, Megan Youngren, was one of 450 individuals competing in the United States Olympic women’s marathon trials in Atlanta, Georgia, Saturday, but will not be among the runners sent to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, after finishing well behind the three women selected to represent the U.S.
Youngren, women’s entertainment magazine Pop Sugar reports, “placed 230th with a time of 2:50:27.”
The race, one of the “hilliest” in U.S. Olympic history, produced at least one first-time Olympian, Molly Seidel, who was also competing in her first-ever marathon: “Winners of those Tokyo tickets on the women’s side include first-place finisher Aliphine Tuliamuk (2:27:23), first-time marathoner Molly Seidel, and 2012 Olympian Sally Kipyego. Yep, you read that right: Molly had never competed at 26.2 miles before the Olympic trials.”
Youngren, who is biologically male, is the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the American Olympic trials for track and field. The transgender athlete “qualified for the trials after a strong performance on Dec. 8, 2019, in the California International Marathon,” according to the Daily Signal, and had hoped to make Olympic history by becoming the first trangender athlete to represent the United States in an Olympic track and field event.
“People will try to put it down by saying, ‘That’s too easy because you’re trans.’ But what about the 500 other women who will qualify?” the trans runner told Sports Illustrated last month, per the Signal. “There’s probably someone with the exact same story.”
“I trained hard. I got lucky. I dodged injuries,” Youngren added. “I raced a lot, and it worked out for me. That’s the story for a lot of other people, too.”
That training wasn’t enough, though, and Youngren was bested by 229 biologically female runners.
The United States does allow transgender individuals to compete against the gender of their choice rather than their stated biological gender provided they meet the International Olympic Committees own standards for competition, established in November of 2015 at the IOC’s “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism.”
Fearing that biologically male athletes could have an advantage over biologically female athletes in gender-specific events, the IOC mandated that male-to-female athletes must have declared that their gender identify is female for at least four years prior to competing for an Olympic slot and “must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).”
Youngren isn’t the only transgender individual competing for a slot on the U.S. Olympic team. American BMX Freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe is also aiming to “mak[e] history as the first transgender athlete to compete in the Games,” per Reuters. Wolfe “received an email asking her to register for the Tokyo Olympics this month,” though Wolfe has yet to officially qualify.
Brazilian volleyball player Tifanny Abreu and New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard are also competing to become the first transgender athlete to compete against women for Olympic titles.