The transgender community faces a variety of challenges, including the rights of trans athletes to compete in categories consistent with their gender identity — which is what makes it so awesome that trans runner Amelia Gapin is on the cover of Women's Running magazine for their July issue. It seems like it should be a no-brainer — trans women are women, so trans women who run are women runners — but because so much of our society remains so stubbornly transphobic, it bears repeating. And this magazine cover makes that point magnificently.
Amelia Gapin, an engineer based in Brooklyn who is also an avid runner, has written in the past about the difficulties of being a trans athlete. "Typically, most runners would consider the actual training thing to be the hardest part of running races. However, for those of us who happen to be transgender, sometimes the hardest part is simply registering," she wrote in a piece for Run Haven last July.
A year later, things can still be tough for trans athletes, but Gapin is also on the cover of a women's magazine, which goes a long way toward normalizing trans people in sports.
"Being a transgender woman on the cover of a magazine dedicated to women says people like me are not just being seen, but being seen for who we are," Gapin said in an interview with Women's Running about the cover. "It’s a feeling of acceptance, inclusivity and being welcomed."
Openly trans athletes are becoming more common in high schools, colleges, and adult athletic competitions — the U.S. National Team even has an openly trans athlete now. Despite this, many athletic organizations still struggle to change with the times: Some organizations, for example, have tried banning trans athletes from competing as the gender they identify; many more allow trans athletes, but place heavy restrictions on when and how they are allowed to participate, an issue Gapin addresses in her Run Maven essay on registering for races.
Others, however, have openly embraced, and even encouraged, trans athletes to compete as their authentic selves, setting an encouraging example for all sports to follow.
In the midst of all this, it's incredibly awesome to see a trans woman on the cover of a magazine specifically for female runners, especially since Women's Running has long made an effort to be supportive of all women runners.
"Amelia's bravery, openness and tough-runner spirit makes her a wonderful role model for Women's Running's growing community – she's certainly an inspiration to everyone on our team, myself included," Jessie Sebor, editor-in-chief of Women's Running told People.
Gapin wants people to know, though, that even though she's proud of her identity, she's also so much more. She explained in the cover interview:
I think a lot of times people get pigeonholed into being just one thing, especially when they’re a vocal advocate for that thing. But I’m more than just a trans person. I’m an engineer, a startup co-founder, a wife, a nerd, a feminist and a thousand other things too.
And now one of those things is a woman on the cover of a major magazine.
Images: annca/Pixabay; Women's Running