parkrun is committed to ensuring our events are as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, which includes breaking down barriers to signing up. As a result, and following a lengthy international consultation, we evolved the gender question on our registration form in 2020 to include ‘another gender identity’ and ‘prefer not to say’.
More than 16,000 people have now registered with us using these options, including Ada Macey. Ada explains why it is so important for transgender people to be involved in physical activity and connected to their community, and why including a non-binary gender option on our registration form was a significant step towards being more inclusive.
When I started parkrunning I hadn’t come out as transgender, and I was still dealing with a lot of the internal struggles. ‘Dysphoria’ is the formal word, but I didn’t have that word at the time.
I just felt a little bit more ‘even’ when I was active and fit and felt in touch with my body. As a transgender person, this is something that can often be a real struggle to find.
In my experience the parkrun community was, and is, really accepting. parkrunning unknowingly tapped into a lot of those needs that I had to feel connected and was really good for my head space.
A transgender person in the broadest term is someone who doesn’t align completely with the gender they were assigned when they were born.
Your birth certificate says boy or girl, but somewhere in your life you get to the point where you know that’s just not right. That’s not who you are.
When I first started parkrun, I was motivated a lot by my finish times.
But once I started taking hormones and the testosterone levels in my body lowered, my athletic performance wasn’t where it used to be. I really struggled because I had found this pride in my body, an understanding that my body could do amazing things, and the way I measured that was by my times.
The medical transition was the part that was the most important to me. However I soon realised the social transition and being able to just live and be accepted and seen in the world as myself had a far bigger impact on me. I get goosebumps talking about it.
That’s when I started using the parkrun community a lot more, whether I was a VI guide or Tail Walker. It was something that got me out there and active without getting hung up on my finish time. I make it sound easy when I talk about it now, but that was a mental journey of many years.
parkrun’s decision to evolve its registration form to acknowledge and capture people who don’t identify as male/female was a really important step for the community at large. I am very glad and thankful that I was able to be part of that discussion because people feel seen now.
I think it’s really important that people who do want to disclose their gender as not being on that male/female binary have an option to represent.
Opportunities for trans people to be involved in sports and physical activity and connect with the community is incredibly powerful. Whether it’s the ability to register and identify on a form, the ability to be involved in the community, or the ability to go for a walk or a run. Normalisation matters that much.
When you’re talking about trans people, there’s a lot of talk about pronouns. In my case my pronouns are she and her. You don’t need to understand them, you don’t even need to be perfect at them. Just try, and you’ll change someone’s life.
There is nothing in this world like being able to actually live as yourself.
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