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London Marathon stands by transgender woman who competed in female category

Event director asserts the marathon is an "event that champions inclusivity”

Glenique Frank at London Marathon 2023 Photo by: Glenique Frank/Facebook

Organizers of the TCS London Marathoner are voicing support for a transgender woman who became the subject of controversy this week after competing in the race’s female category. Glenique Frank of Daventry, Northamptonshire, finished this year’s marathon in 4:11:28 to place 6,171st among more than 21,000 runners in the race’s female category. The 54-year-old runner became a magnet for support as well as criticism after she was briefly interviewed as part of the BBC’s live coverage of this year’s marathon on April 23.

2023 London Marathon, Glenique Frank
Photo: Glenique Frank/Facebook

Frank told the New York Post earlier this week that she stopped to talk to a BBC reporter during the race “to spread joy and happiness with the rainbow love.” The runner told the Post that it wasn’t her intention to trick anyone by entering the female category, and that she abides by the rules of any race she enters.

She also told the Post that, in light of the recent controversy, she was willing to hand back her medal from this year’s event. “If they want me to give my medal back, I’ll say, ‘OK, fine. No problem,’” she said.

Now, London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher is asserting organizers will not be asking for Frank’s medal back, and that the event stands behind Frank’s participation in the female category.

Brasher told the Post that the London Marathon is “a unique celebration of inclusivity and humanity,” saying it is “an event for everyone” and one that “champions inclusivity.”

Initially after the race, Frank expressed no regrets about entering the female category. “I don’t want to apologize, because I didn’t do anything wrong,” she told the Post. She said those who had voiced opposition to her competing in the women’s category were “angry because they’re saying that one of 14,000 women behind me could have had my place. Really? I did [the race in] 4 hours 11 minutes. There are lots of women that beat me. … I get it … I’m not a woman, I don’t have a womb. … But I didn’t compete as an elite, so I didn’t steal any money.”

But in a Facebook post on April 27—the day before the London Marathon came out in support of her inclusion in the female category—Frank offered an apology and claimed she will no longer take part in any future London Marathons.

TCS London Marathon
Photo: Kevin Morris

Frank told the Post that the category options participants were given for this year’s marathon were male, female and other, and that she had selected ‘female’ “because I see myself as female.” Frank commented it was “quite sad” that a runner has to describe themselves as “other.”

According to TCS London Marathon website, there was no “other” option on the registration for this year’s event. Rather, category options listed on the ballot included “male,” “female” and “non-binary.” London, like Boston, introduced a non-binary category for the first time this year, drawing 118 runners to the field (including virtual race participants).

Last month, World Athletics announced that any athlete who had been through male puberty would not be allowed to compete in the women’s category as of March 31 of this year. Although the elite races at this year’s TCS London Marathon were subject to the new World Athletics rules on transgender athletes, the mass event in which Frank participated was not.

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