San Francisco's 'Bay to Breakers' run fails to acknowledge non-binary runners

I want to push back on the whole notion that “the innate biological advantages of males” somehow overrides everything for life.

The reality is that biology includes so many different components, not just whether or not one is an innie or outie at birth. Just because someone was exposed to testosterone while in utero doesn’t mean they will still have ‘male’ muscles after hormone treatments for gender reassignment.

Also, there are conflicting advantages: what makes one a champion swimmer is entirely different than what makes one a champion gymnast.

But I suppose if you start and end your day with the belief that males, by definition, are always going to be superior in every single possible sport, it’s hard to understand data that shows the opposite.


Yep. My husband ran track and x-country in college and he and his teammates ran it semi seriously in 1982. He said that they’d time the first 500 finishers and stopped timing the other 65K. He remembers crossing the finish line, getting some water, and hearing the guy standing next to him say, “Is that woman naked?” It was Olympian Frank Shorter.


Cis women would still be able to win medals, you just categorize based off of attributes other than gender, something like testosterone levels. There are already cis women who are banned from olympic events because they have high naturally occurring testosterone levels.


The links between testosterone and performance would have to be much more comprehensively documented for that to be useful.

I just want to be sure I understand what you’re proposing here:

  • How many categories are you talking about? Two, or more than two? (Obviously, testosterone levels exist on a wide spectrum for people of all gender identities so theoretically there’s no limit to how many categories you could have)
  • You believe it’s fair and appropriate that the Namibian women in the article you linked to are not allowed to compete as women just because they happen to have higher testosterone levels than the average woman? The article itself stresses that there’s no clear evidence that it provides the women with an unfair advantage.
  • Do you really think it’s practical to test and classify everyone who competes in events like this San Francisco 12k race by testosterone levels? Do you believe that the majority of folks in the non-binary community would be in favor of that?

I offered up one possible solution. I am in no way qualified to determine how workable that actually is. The categorization of men and women’s sports is already failing trans and cis people as highlighted by the story of the Namibian women who aren’t allowed to compete.

No, not at all. I used that as an example of how the current system is hurting them along with trans women. They are women and should obviously be able to compete as women but the current governing sport organizations have said they can’t compete unless they suppress testosterone.

I don’t think, from what people here have described the race as, that it needs gendered categories at all.


I participate in many 5k and 10k runs, one of the largest is the Detroit Turkey Trot with 15,000 - 20,000+. I run for competition, my wife and daughter run for fun wearing costumes and stopping at all the cookie stations. I ran a 20,000+ race once where I finished before my wife even crossed the start line.

In other words a lot of these big runs have lots of people running/walking for various reasons/goals. Most of the big ones give awards for the overall finishers. Those people are out in front and finish long before the fun runners are anywhere near the start line.


As noted in a couple of the posts upthread, this 110 year old race started out as a serious athletic event and is still treated as such by those participants who win it each year, even if many of the participants are just in it for the fun.

The top 17 finishers this year all identified as male, with the top woman being about 6 minutes behind the lead. So, to be clear, your solution would have meant no women would have been recognized as winners in this event. (For the record I personally believe it’s appropriate for the top women to receive recognition and a prize, but opinions will differ.)

Anyway, it’s largely a moot point now. The race organizers just announced that they are honoring the non-binary runners in a separate category:

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Yeah, so do I. However as more and more people identify as trans and non-binary the system of men’s and women’s sports will fail those who are excluded from those two categories. Is it fair that trans women forced to compete in men’s sports will never receive recognition and a prize? How do you deal with non-binary people who just low dose HRT? These are things that sporting bodies are going to have to deal with at some point.


But you’re simultaneously advocating for two opposing solutions:

  • You’re saying that this specific race shouldn’t have categories. (Which, as I noted, would have meant no women would have been recognized)
  • You’re saying that professional athletics should categorize people based on testosterone levels, although you won’t give an answer on how many categories are appropriate.

To be clear I’m not criticizing your solutions, which I assume you’re putting out there in good faith. But as far as I can tell they’re opposite to each other so I’m honestly confused about what your preferred solution would look like if implemented.

I offered that as a possibility and told you I am not qualified to determine any type of categorization. Right now, the system we use is failing people. I offered testosterone levels as a possibility because sporting bodies are already using that to wrongly exclude women from competition as evidenced by the Namibian runners.

The only thing I know about this race is what people in comments here described. Those comments made it sound like a fun drunken race that doesn’t really mean anything. I’m probably wrong and it does mean something. The race did exclude NB’s until they received backlash. Was that okay?

Again, I am not qualified to determine that, but something will need to change in the way sports handles things. Or should trans and non-binary people continue to be excluded? The testosterone categorization had to do with competitive athletics in general and not this specific race. The number of gender non-conforming people will continue to increase for a while, right now under the current system, people are being excluded. Is that a good thing. I want to see cis women, trans women, enby’s, trans men, and cis men all be able to compete and receive recognition.


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