You’ll never guess how the nonbinary running community is reacting to the news that the Chicago Marathon added a non-binary division for this Sunday’s marathon.
Correct, they/them have issues with this news. Shocker.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, nonbinary runners contacted by the news outlet were at first happy over the news that there will be a new division for the they/them community. But, the jubilation was quick lived once the them/them community realized they/them can’t just be happy. Nope, there had to be something to bitch about.
One runner, Cal Calamia told the Sun-Times that they/them has a big issue over the exclusion of an “elite” nonbinary division like the Marathon has in the male/female categories. Cal’s also pissed over the lack of a finish line ribbon for the nonbinaries and lack of a monetary prizes for finishers.
Oh, and Cal is mad that the Chicago Marathon didn’t announce there’s now a nonbinary division.
“Personally, it feels hurtful because it feels performative, or brushed under the rug, because it really is a big deal,” Cal told the Sun-Times.
More than 40,000 runners are expected to participate in Sunday’s race. 70 have registered for the nonbinary division.
If we do some quick percentage math on these two numbers, we learn that the nonbinary community makes up just .18% of Sunday’s participation.
“We’re at this moment, right?” nonbinary runner Jake Fedorowski told Runner’s World in September as it was announced that the Boston and London marathons would add nonbinary divisions. “Yes, we can celebrate. Yes, we can be super excited… But [it’s important] that those announcements are not performative. We have to make sure that they are actually committed to the work and are going to take necessary steps to build out equitable divisions.”
Fedorowski created a 24-page document for race directors to learn and use to make their races inclusive for the nonbinary community.
Oh, and Jake couldn’t wait to make this about race.
“If you’re a cis white person trying to make these policies that are going to affect people of different identities and experiences, you want to make sure they’re authentic and enact positive change,” Fedorowski told Runner’s World.
Are you prepared for your head to start spinning?
Here are a few of Jake’s proposals to make these marathons inclusive to the nonbinaries:
• Are the restrooms and changing facilities labeled “Men” and
“Women,” or “All Gender?
• If your event has exclusive use of the restrooms, consider
adding temporary signage to designate the restrooms as “All
• If you plan on distributing apparel to participants,
try using, or at least including, non-gendered sizing options.
• Are you inviting your local Frontrunner club and other
LGBTQIA+ sport clubs to participate? Are you putting up posters
at the local LGBTQIA+ gyms, bars, and community centers?
• Ensure that your classification approach is based on gender
identity, and not sex. If your categories are based on sex (male,
female, etc.), you will need to change this to gender identity
(man, woman, non-binary, etc.).
• Your first instinct may be to have different colored bibs to
identify each division. This is a potentially harmful solution, as
it could call attention to non-binary participants and put them
at risk of verbal or physical harassment.
• To be completely equitable, no division
should receive more or less than the other. Yes, you may have
fewer participants in a certain division and therefore less awards
to distribute overall, but each participant should be given equal
opportunity to win each award and/or amount of prize money.
Good luck to all the marathon executives out there who will be tangling with the nonbinary mafia over the coming years. Now that you’ve bent the knee, good luck saying ‘no’ to these wish list items.