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Tipsheet

Boston Marathon to Include Category for Non-Binary Athletes

AP Photo/Steven Senne

The Boston Marathon announced this week that it will include a “non-binary” registration option for individuals who do not want to register in the men’s or women’s category for the 2023 race.

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Registration for the marathon opened on Monday. The Boston Athletic Association announced that the application allows registrants to select the “non-binary” option when it asks for gender. Someone who identifies as “non-binary” does not identify exclusively as a man or woman.

“The Boston Athletic Association is currently working on expanding opportunities for non-binary athletes at our events, including the upcoming 2023 Boston Marathon,” the BAA’s website states. “Discussions are ongoing with non-binary athletes in an effort to further promote inclusion at all B.A.A. events.”

The statement added that the association does not have enough data to establish non-binary qualifying times.

"As we prepare for future races, participants can expect nonbinary times to be updated accordingly," the organization said. “We view this first year as an opportunity to learn and grow together.”

This past year, there were 30,000 participants in the marathon.

Reuters reported that over 200 races nationwide now include a “non-binary” division for athletes. The Brooklyn Marathon and Half Marathon reportedly had over 80 finishers in the non-binary division in April 2022.

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The New York Times noted that the change “rippled” across the sport. On Wednesday, the London Marathon updated its policy to include non-binary athletes. In addition, the Berlin Marathon will allow athletes to update their profiles to “reflect their gender identity.” 

This change comes months after the controversy surrounding Will “Lia” Thomas, a biological male “transgender” athlete who competed on the women’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas made headlines all season for breaking records competing against women and taking home an NCAA Division I title at the championships in March. 

In the months after, several sports announced that they would restrict transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. This included rugby, swimming, and British cycling.

In June, I interviewed Cynthia Monteleone, a world champion track athlete who competed against a biological male “transgender” athlete at a race in Spain in 2018. In our interview, we discussed the future of women’s sports now that trans and nonbinary athletes who are biological males have been competing against women. Monteleone told me that it makes the most sense to her to create an open category in sports for transgender athletes to protect women’s sports. 

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“I want everybody to be able to participate in sports. There are so many valuable lessons in sports,” she said. “So yes, let’s include everybody. But that doesn’t mean excluding females from their opportunities. I’m not the policymaker, but it seems to make the most sense to me to have an open category,” she added and clarified that it is not her belief that there are more than two genders.

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