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Transgender marathoner doesn’t qualify for Olympics, loses to over 200 biological females at trial race

The Olympics has a testosterone limit for male athletes who identify as female

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

A biological male identifying as a woman will not be a part of the U.S. Olympic women's marathon team this summer.

The U.S. Olympic marathon trials for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, were held over the weekend on a windy Saturday in Atlanta. And while the the three men and three women who will represent the United States of America have been chosen, the first transgender athlete to compete in the trial didn't make the cut.

Last month, news broke that Megan Youngren, a biological male who identifies as female, had become the first openly transgender athlete to qualify for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials. The Sports Illustrated coverage of the athlete's story notes that Youngren started taking hormones in 2011 and publicly came out as transgender in 2012.

According to ESPN, Youngren came in behind 229 biological women in 230th place with a marathon time of 2 hours, 50 minutes, 27 seconds. The women's field for the trial race consisted of 390 Olympic hopefuls.

"People will try to put it down by saying, 'That's too easy because you're trans,'" Youngren told Sports Illustrated last month. "But what about the 500 other women who will qualify? There's probably someone with the exact same story. I trained hard. I got lucky. I dodged injuries. I raced a lot, and it worked out for me. That's the story for a lot of other people, too."

However, in order to compete in the trial, Youngren had to comply with the transgender competition rules put forward by the International Olympic Committee and followed by USA Track and Field, which were put in place to address concerns that biological males identifying as transgender could unfairly upend women's competitions.

While biological women who identify as male can compete in men's events without restriction, the policy imposes the following conditions on biological males who wish to compete with biological women:

2.1. The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
2.2.The athlete 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).
2.3.The athlete's total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
2.4.Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete's eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.

The three women who qualified for marathon team were Aliphine Tuliamuk, with a finish time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, 23 seconds; Molly Seidel with a finish time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, 31 seconds and Sally Kipyego who finished at 2 hours, 28 minutes, 52 seconds.

But despite not qualifying, Youngren recalled receiving an outpouring of support from other people at the event, ESPN reported.

"It's always weird when someone comes up to you and says, 'Hey, I read about you. I heard about you.' But then also goes, 'Good work. I'm glad you're here,'" Youngren told ESPN. "It's gratifying. It's totally bizarre, also, because I'm just some person."

The first transgender athlete to actually make the U.S. national team was duathlete Chris Mosier, a biological woman who identifies as male. Mosier competed in the men's Oilympic trial for race walking in late January, but had to pull out of the race early due to a knee injury.

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