Running Beyond Boundaries: Empowering trans and non-binary athletes
Greetings! My name is Lauren Lubin April, and I founded April Haus, Inc., a consulting company dedicated to advancing non-binary and transgender people in sports and society. I am also the publisher of Beyond the Binary™, a monthly newsletter informing readers of the latest news and information about gender and sexual diversity. My passion for promoting equality and inclusivity spans over a decade.
In 2016, I became the first openly non-binary athlete to run the TCS New York City Marathon. I have collaborated with industry leaders throughout my career to make running one of the most welcoming sports for transgender and non-binary individuals. In 2021, April Haus, Inc. teamed up with New York Road Runners (NYRR) to introduce a non-binary division for all NYRR races, including the TCS New York City Marathon. This made it the first major marathon to have a non-binary division with equal prize money. Following this, five out of six major marathons, including the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon, London Marathon, and Berlin Marathon, adopted a similar non-binary division. In November 2022, the TCS New York City Marathon became the first sports event designated an LGBTQIA+ Safe Space by the Stonewall Inn Give Back Initiative.
Today, over 100 races nationwide offer non-binary participation, signaling that gender-diverse athletes are welcome and celebrated in the running community. More and more transgender and non-binary runners are achieving great success in the sport, helping to break down barriers and inspire others.
Running is transformative
With the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon right around the corner and a more significant number of gender-diverse athletes running than ever before, I want to commemorate this moment to talk about some of the tremendous benefits of running. I can attest that running has transformed my life and made me who I am today. Running taught me that I am limitless in what I can achieve if I set my mind to it. It also taught me discipline, dedication, and resilience.
Running has numerous mental and physical benefits, such as improving cardiovascular health, strengthening muscles, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, boosting mood, and helping with stress and anxiety management. It is also a great way to socialize, connect with others, and build community.
Running also provides unique benefits for trans and non-binary people:
- It can help you to boost your self-confidence and affirm your identity. Running can be a powerful way to express yourself and to show the world who you are. When you cross the finish line, you know you have accomplished something extraordinary, which can be a huge confidence boost.
- It can help you to connect with other trans and non-binary athletes. More and more running clubs and races are specifically geared towards increasing inclusivity and participation. These events can be a great way to meet others, share your experiences, and build community.
- It can help you to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about trans and non-binary athletes. Trans and non-binary athletes are just as capable as any other athletes, and we prove that every day. By running, you are helping to show the world that trans and non-binary athletes belong in all sports.
If you are interested in starting running, here are a few tips:
- Start slowly and gradually increase your mileage. It is important to listen to your body and not to push yourself too hard too soon.
- Find a running partner or club. Having someone to run with can help you to stay motivated and accountable.
- Invest in a good pair of running shoes if you can. Running shoes can help to prevent injuries and make your runs more comfortable.
- Have fun! Running should be enjoyable, so remember to enjoy the ride.
Everyone deserves the right to participate and prosper from the incredible benefits of running. While much work still needs to be done to make running a more equitable sport for all, the progress we have made for gender-diverse athletes in a short time has been incredible. And a big part of that progress is the fantastic, brave athletes simply showing up.
Written by Lauren Lubin
In 2016, Lauren became the first openly non-binary athlete to run the TCS New York City Marathon. Lauren is the founder of April Haus, a consulting company dedicated to advancing trans people in sport.