Organizers of the Boston Marathon have given the OK for transgender women to compete as women in the April 16 race through the city and surrounding suburbs.
At least five openly transgender women have signed up to compete in the 26.2-mile race, the Boston Herald reported.
“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.”
Is there any controversy?
The Boston Athletic Association's decision has sparked controversy among some experts who believe runners who were born as men but now identify as women may have a competitive edge over the other female runners.
“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 Herald. “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.”
But others say transgender women don't have an advantage if they've taken medication to reduce their testosterone levels.
“That’s a misconception and a myth,” Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, director of education and training programs at the Fenway Institute, told the Herald. “There’s no physiologic advantage to being assigned male at birth.”
Fenway Institute in Boston is a health and advocacy center for the LGBT community.
Keuroghlian added that transgender women who use testosterone-lowering medication might suffer negative side effects such as sluggishness, dehydration, and reduced stamina.
What is this transgender's story?
Not all transgender women have reduced their testosterone levels.
Stevie Romer, a transgender woman, legally changed her gender, grew out her hair and lives openly as a woman, but has not taken medication to reduce her testosterone levels.
“I’ve been a runner since as long as I can remember," Romer said. "I love running, but I just happen to be transgender.”
Romer signed up to race the marathon as a woman.