London Marathon Comes to Defense of Transgender Runner in Women’s Race

Marathon officials are standing behind trans runner Glenique Frank — maintaining that she did nothing wrong when she beat nearly 14,000 women in the female category of a race that is “a unique celebration of inclusivity.”

The runner was accused of “cheating real women out of a place.”

On Sunday (23 April), Frank ran in the female race, finishing the 26.2-mile run in 4hrs 11mins 28secs, which placed her 6,160th among more than 20,000 other competitors.

But the 54-year-old runner’s achievement was met with instant criticism with Mara Yamauchi, the third-fastest British female marathon runner in history, claiming that World Athletics and UK Athletics rules had been broken. 

Misgendering Frank, she told Telegraph Sport: “World Athletics and UK Athletics have rules that post-puberty males competing in the female category is unfair. This male competed under UK Athletics’ transitional arrangements, but it is still wrong and unfair.”

Yamauchi went on to claim that “nearly 14,000 women finished in a worse finish position”, because of Frank. 

UK Athletics declared on 31 March, acting on World Athletics’ lead, that trans women who have been through “male puberty” will be banned from female UK Athletics events.

But the rules included a caveat. Any athlete who had already entered in a category not aligned with their biological sex would still be allowed to take part in the race, so Frank could run in the female race in London. 

‘I feel bad when I run as I don’t have my hair on’

Glenique Frank tells PinkNews she agrees with Yamauchi and believes in same-sex sport, but stated that a transgender category should be created.

The trans woman ran in the female race as she didn’t identify with any other gender marker available on the London Marathon application form, which, this year for the first time included a non-binary category.

“I feel bad when I run as I don’t have my hair on and I get gender dysphoria. When I take my hair off, I just see ugly boy,” she says.

Scrutiny of Frank’s participation in the female category escalated after she was interviewed by the BBC on Tower Bridge. 

In the interview, Frank, who had the trans flagged draped over her shoulders, said she was driven by “girl power”, adding that this was her 17th marathon and announced that her son is having a baby, so will soon be “Granny G”.

Under an Instagram image of Frank after she finished the race, many people commented that her TV interview had inspired them.

Frank says she ran the marathon to raise money for good causes, adding that, in 17 years, she has raised more than £30,000 for UK charities.

A fundraiser set up by Frank aims to reach £2,100 in aid of Whizz-Kidz’s vital services for young wheelchair users. So far, more than £300 had been raised. 

On Facebook, Frank said she had previously entered marathons in New York and Tokyo as a man because her passport still states she’s male, leaving her with no other choice. 

She said her mental health is “stronger” following the backlash, and she’s determined to “fight for all humans and spread joy and happiness and the rainbow”.

Marathon Officials Respond

Hugh Brasher, the event director of the TCS London Marathon, spoke out a day after the 54-year-old trans woman said she feared being stripped of her medal and being banned from future races for entering the competition as female.

However, Brasher told The Post that only elite and championship competitors — which Frank is not — “are held under World Athletics rules, which exclude transgender women from elite female competition if they have gone through male puberty.”

The “mass event” — which Frank ran Sunday — is instead “a unique celebration of inclusivity and humanity,” Brasher said.

It “is an event for everyone and an event where the vast majority of those taking part are raising money for charity,” Brasher said. Frank says she’s raised at least $37,000 for charities in her 17 marathons.

“It is an event that champions inclusivity,” Brasher stressed of the “incredible challenge” of the 26.2-mile course.

“While we do list the place an individual has come, there are no prizes for this,” he stressed. Frank came 6,159th in the female category and noted that — while she did come ahead of nearly 14,000 female runners — she did not “steal any money” or podium spots.

The event director made clear that Frank did not need to remove herself from future runs at the event, including one she planned next year.

“We are committed to making the TCS London Marathon the most diverse, equitable and inclusive marathon in the world,” Brasher said of the run that also has a category for non-binary racers.

Frank ran other marathons — including the November one in New York — as a male because those races required her to register under the name and gender on her passport.

Frank said that although she hasn’t yet had gender reassignment surgery, she has been on her transitioning journey for three years and has known she was in the wrong body since she was six-years-old

Undeterred by the ensuing backlash, Glenique Frank tells PinkNews she is using it to call for equality in sport – which she defines as creating a transgender category – while continuing to raise money for charity.

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