Trans athlete who runs as female at London Marathon labeled ‘wrong and unfair’

Trans runner Glenique Frank (formerly Glen Frank) runs in the 2023 London Marathon

Trans runner Glenique Frank (formerly Glen Frank) runs in the 2023 London Marathon

A top Olympic athlete said it was “wrong and unfair” that Glenique Frank, a biological male who identifies as a woman, was allowed to compete in the women’s category of the London Marathon, after the runner gave an interview in broadcast to the BBC on Tower Bridge declaring ‘girl power’ and ‘I’m going to be a grandmother’.

Frank ran in the New York Marathon last November as a man named Glen, but received dispensation to line up in Sunday’s mass run in London, naming Glenique and finishing in a time of 4 hours 11 minutes and 28 seconds. Competing in the 50-54 age group, Frank had a finish of 6.160 out of a women’s field of 20.123. In the men’s category, the same time would have been enough only for 15,386th place.

“Nearly 14,000 women have come in a worse position because of her,” said Mara Yamauchi, who finished sixth in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics, and who is the third fastest British woman in history over the distance.

“This is what the London Marathon is enabling,” said Cathy Devine, a former lecturer in sport and physical activity at the University of Cumbria. “Zero categories that exclude the male performance advantage. Goddess forbid that female runners should have their own category celebrating what female runners can do.

On 31 March, UK Athletics announced a complete ban on transgender athletes in all of its licensed events, at all levels, declaring it was “fair for athletes who have gone through male puberty to be excluded from the women’s category in athletics”. . But it did include a caveat, clarifying that any athlete who had already entered an event in a category that wasn’t their biological sex would remain eligible for that race. It is understood that Frank was a beneficiary of this loophole.

The women's marathon.  Great Britain's first runner-up Mara Yamauchi crosses the finish line in 6th place - Beijing 2008 Olympic Games/Julian Andrews

The women’s marathon. Great Britain’s runner-up Mara Yamauchi crosses the line in 6th place – Beijing 2008 Olympic Games/Julian Andrews

Yamauchi lashed out at Frank’s involvement, telling Telegraph Sport: ‘World Athletics and UK Athletics have rules that post-pubescent males competing in the women’s category are unfair. This male has competed under the UK Athletics transitional arrangements, but he is still wrong and unfair.”

It was on Tower Bridge that Frank stopped for an interview with BBC presenter, JJ Chalmers. “This is my 17th marathon and I’m doing six majors,” says Frank. I just did Tokyo, I did New York last year. Next year I’ll do number 6 a week before London. So a week off but… girl power. I also did the Comrades Marathon in South Africa where I’m from. Shout out to my beautiful son, who’s about to have a baby, so I’m going to be a grandma… Grandma G! As Frank runs off, draped in the transgender flag of blue, pink and white, Chalmers shouts, “London, baby.”

A former marathon runner expressed concern that these references to girl power and becoming a grandmother represent a theft of language that should be the preserve of women. There is also alarm in some parts of the marathon community that if Frank hadn’t been featured in the BBC’s coverage, female participants would have had no idea a transgender athlete was in their category.

In this month’s Manchester Marathon, there were at least two biological males running as females. One, marking ‘the last UK marathon as an official woman’, told 73% of beaten women to ‘eat my dust’, while wearing a pink T-shirt with the message ‘F— UK Athletics’ , after the national governing body chose to protect equity for women in sport.

While most transgender controversies in sports are confined to the elite level, Yamauchi is adamant that the Frank case should not be ignored. “Some people say if males are on the podium, it matters, but not if they finish lower,” he said. “What this actually says is that women and girls who aren’t that good at sports don’t deserve equity, which I think is scary.”

In New York last year, Frank, running as a male, finished 14,096th out of 26,539 athletes. Frank intends to run both the Berlin and Chicago Marathons later this year, before a Boston-London double in April 2024. “I wonder which category will he like then?” Yamauchi said. “Males in the female category are unfair to females.”

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