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Transgender runner Megan Youngren set to compete at U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

Megan Youngren will toe the line in Atlanta on February 29

On February 29, Megan Youngren will become the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, to be held in Atlanta.

Youngren, 28, started taking hormone medication in 2011 and came out as transgender in 2012. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Chavez, she detailed her journey in running to get to this point as an Olympic Trials qualifier.

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“People will try to put [the qualification] 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.”

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Youngren’s first crack at the marathon was in 2017 at the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, Alaska, the same state where she lives and trains. Her time of 4:48 at that hilly Alaskan marathon was over two hours slower than what she ran to secure her spot at the trials this past December.

It was long and hard, but this race is when Youngren fell in love with the marathon. Since then, she’s competed in several other marathons, and her times kept getting faster. Eventually, she started to think a 2:45, the the qualifying standard for the U.S. trials, was possible for her.

She had a few real shots at 2:45, but kept falling short. Then, in December, she came in 40th at the California International Marathon in 2:43:52, officially qualifying her for the Olympic trials.

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The USATF’s rules for transgender competitors in the Olympic trials mirror those of the International Olympic Committee, stating that transgender female athletes must have testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per litre at least 12 months before the competition. Youngren’s levels are far below this bar, which when tested showed they sit at two nanomoles per litre.

“I have done everything by the book, and I can show that,” she said. “I’m open to talking about it to people because that’s the only way you make progress on stuff like this.”