Megan Youngren will become the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the United States Olympic Marathon trials.
The 29-year-old will make history on February 29 in Atlanta, where the trials will be held.
She will be one of 63 women to compete at the trials, which will determine who will represent the United States at the Summer Games in Tokyo this year.
That year, she started taking hormone medication. In 2012, she came out publicly as transgender.
Megan Youngren started taking hormone medication in 2011, and came out publicly as transgender in 2012
She officially finalized her transition to a female last year, submitting the necessary paperwork.
Last month, Chris Mosier became the first transgender athlete to qualify for an participate in Olympic trials in the gender with which he identifies.
Mosfier became the first trans male to compete with cisgender men at the 50km race walk in Santee, California.
An Alaska native, Youngren started running in 2013 to lose weight and boost her health after transitioning to a female.
Youngren said that running helped ease a case of the shingles.
She continued to run until 2017, when she competed in her first marathon in Fairbanks.
She completed the 26-mile course, which included 3,285ft of elevation gain and loss, in 4:48.
Despite the difficulty, she said that race is what got her hooked on running marathons.
Megan Youngren, 29, will become the first transgender woman to compete in the United States Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta later this month
In 2019, she completed the Los Angeles Marathon in 3:06:42.
Sensing that running the marathon under 3:00 was within reach, she started to train more intensively, running often when she had time off from her job at a bakery.
‘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.’
On December 8, 2019, Youngren finished in 40th place at the California International Marathon, completing the course in 2:43:52.
The 40th-place finish was good enough to qualify for the trials in Atlanta.
The debate surrounding transgender athletes in sports, which are generally based on gender, has become a hot button issue.
Youngren finished in 40th place at the California International Marathon, completing the course in 2:43:52
Those who oppose transgender females competing in sports usually cite hormonal factors like higher testosterone levels in trans women and physiological features like height and weight.
Supporters point out that sports of all levels have been categorized by gender and transgender females should compete in the gender division they identify as.
Under international rules, those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category if her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition.
The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.