The first male-to-female transgender athlete qualified for the United States Olympic Marathon Trials despite her time exceeding the male eligibility cutoff by over 20 minutes.
Megan Youngren earned a 40th place finish at the 2019 California International Marathon with a time of 2:43:42, just below the secondary female qualifying cutoff of 2:45:00 and missing the primary cutoff of 2:37:00 by nearly seven minutes.
If she competed in the male division, Youngren would not have qualified for the Olympic trials, as she missed the first male cutoff time of 2:15:00 by nearly 30 minutes and secondary cutoff of 2:19:00 by nearly 25 minutes.
Additionally, she would have tied for 411th place, barely landing her in the top 10% of male competitors – a marked difference from her 40th place finish placing her in the top 2% of female competitors.
She acknowledged “people will try to put [qualifying] 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.”
Younger began her transition in 2011 as a student in college by taking hormone medication and came out a year later in 2012. She ran her first marathon in 2017.
This announcement comes just days after three female high school runners filed a federal lawsuit attempting to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from competing in girls’ sports.
Youngren is now eligible to join 62 other women vying for a spot on the official Tokyo-bound Olympic team at another trial in Atlanta.