Transgender and Nonbinary Runner Set to Go to the Paris Olympics

From Record-Breaking Performances to LGBTQ+ Advocacy, Nikki Hiltz Prepares for Paris Olympics. 

Victory Lap

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Transgender and nonbinnary runner, Nikki Hiltz took a victory lap this week, showered with bracelets and cheering from the fans witnessing her successful Olympic trial. 

Making Waves

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Nikki Hiltz is making waves in more than one way. They are one of the world’s best middle distance runners, eager to earn their stripes at the upcoming Olympic games in Paris, as well as a powerful role model for the entire queer community. 

Here to Stay

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Hiltz competed in the women’s category for the 1,500 meter run, but identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. And they want America to know, they are here to stay. 

Taking Up Space

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After the U.S. track finals and their successful Olympic bid, the 29-year-old runner said, “I’m just looking forward to keep showing up as myself and keep taking up space,” conintuing, “I use they/them pronouns and people stumble all the time. But it’s like, ‘You can’t really ignore me anymore, because I’m a two-time, back-to-back champion. I’m here, get-it-right’ kind of vibe.”

Achieving Goals

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The track trials this past Sunday went exactly as Hiltz planned. They aimed to start fast and maintain pace with the lead pack before pushing ahead at the end. Hiltz also beat her own personal record, clocking in at 3 minutes and 55.33 seconds. 

A Look Back

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The runner beat out both Emily Mackay and Elle St. Pierre by less than a second. Their previous Olympic trial back in 2021 did not go as well, and while St. Pierre took home the title, Hiltz came in last place. 

A Long Journey

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Hiltz said, “I’ve just done so much work since then,” continuing, “So much mental work and obviously physical work, too. It’s just a journey.”

Coming Out

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Hiltz came out as transgender on March 31st, 2021, three months before the previous Olympic trials. They remember that day as feeling truly seen and supported by family, friends, and fellow athletes.

Show of Support

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They know that their trip to the Olympics is more than just a personal achievement, and that they are running in honor of other LGBTQ+ athletes.  Last summer, Hiltz said “I definitely pour a lot of myself and a lot of my time and energy into the queer community and being an advocate,” in Budapest, Hungary. 

Representation Matters

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Hiltz continued, “But I do that because I get so much in return. I feel like every time I meet another nonbinary person in the queer community, they provide me with more representation. They always say that I’m doing that for them, but I think representation is a two-way street and I definitely feel empowered.”

Same Same But Different

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Hiltz’s participation in the female category does not raise the same issues as many transgender women athletes may experience.  

Lia Thomas

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Lia Thomas, the first openly transgender athlete to win a NCAA Division I national championship, first sparked the fierce debate about trans athletes two years ago. 

World Aquatics Says No

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In response, World Aquatics banned transgender women from participating in women’s events. The governing body for track and field, World Athletics, is now facing a similar issue. 

Semenya Now Ineligible 

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In 2023, the organization announced stricter rules for intersex athletes with differences in sex development. Due to the changes, the two-time Olympic 800-meter champion, Caster Semenya, is now ineligible to compete. 

Refusing Treatment

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Semenya has stated that she is not willing to undergo the medical or surgical procedures for her sex difference in order to continue competing. Without taking hormone-suppressing treatment for 6 months, Semenya is banned. 

Acting in “Best Interest”

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The World Athletics President, Sebastian Coe said “The overarching principle for me,” continuing “is we will always do what we think is in the best interest of our sport.” Hiltz disagrees. They said “As someone who’s competed in women’s sports my whole life, I think we do need protecting, but I don’t think it’s from trans women,” 

The Real Issue

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Continuing,  “I think it’s from abusive coaches. Or there are so many more issues, like equal representation, equal pay. Those are the issues I would love to address instead of trans women, because that’s not something we’ve ever had to have protecting from.”

Shared Determination 

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Hiltz hosts an annual  5k race in support of LGBTQ+ organizations, dedicated to “shared determination to show we belong anywhere we decide to be”. They said, “I want to continue to work to make spaces for everyone”. 

Breaking Records

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Hiltz had a very successful summer in 2023, and shattered the longstanding American mile record set back in 1985 by runner Mary Slaney. 

Love and Support

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Last Sunday after winning the race, Hiltz stated,  “I am so privileged. I have an incredible support system. My family has always been accepting of me, when I came out about my sexuality, and then when I came out with my gender identity. I just know so many queer people don’t have that love and support.”

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The post Transgender and Nonbinary Runner Set to Go to the Paris Olympics first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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