Set to make history

Yes, that’s right, frame it as “first for transgender athlete!!” as opposed to “man hopes to qualify for women’s Olympics.” Make it sound like an exciting innovation as opposed to a man cheating a woman out of a place at the Olympics.

On Dec. 8, 2019, 28-year-old Megan Youngren became one of 63 women at the California International Marathon to officially qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, the race that will determine the team for Tokyo. Her 40th-place finish in 2:43:52 came as both a relief and a reward, after four months of intense training. But it also marked another significant moment: With her qualification, Youngren is set to make history on Feb. 29 as the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials.

In other words Youngren is a man.

In 2013, Youngren started running to lose weight and boost her health after transitioning, and now she primarily races on trails and runs up and down mountains for fun. Youngren says that running helped alleviate any lingering symptoms from a case of shingles. By 2014, she was running consistently, but with little structure to her training. An Alaska native, Youngren ran her first marathon at the 2017 Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks in 4:48, on a course with an unforgiving 3,285 feet of elevation gain and loss. Despite the difficulty and cramping, she credits that race as the one that got her hooked on the 26.2-mile distance. …

“I thought that if I worked incredibly hard and took some huge risks that I could run a 2:45,” Youngren says. “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? 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.”

Not because he’s trans; because he’s male. And it’s not that it’s too easy, it’s that it’s an unfair advantage.

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