Pax (funcrunch) wrote,

Race report and gender dilemma

This morning I ran the DSE Fort Mason 5K race. I was tempted to skip it because I felt a cold coming on, but at chorus this week I found out our rehearsal pianist Paul was running it as his first race ever, so I really wanted to support him. I dosed myself with NyQuil the night before and went to bed early, woke up still feeling crappy, took a dose of DayQuil then had overnight oats and tea, and dragged myself over the hill to Aquatic Park.

The weather was sunny, but I had a hard time staying warm between feeling ill and having a newly shorn head. As I did in November's 10K race, I registered as a self-timer so I didn't have to request a white tag for male or orange for female. But this time, before I said I was self-timing, they actually handed me a white tag! Was it an accident or did I actually read as male for once?

The race itself was uneventful. I didn't expect a fast time given my condition and lack of training. I finished in 33:03, a mile pace even slower than November's 10K. But this time they didn't ask for my tag, and said that I wasn't supposed to cross the finish line if I was self-timing. I asked to clarify as my name was still listed with the other self-timers at the last race, and they instructed me to turn my tag in at the registration desk.

I was confused and a bit annoyed, but after recovering enough to think I realized that it made sense. Since we don't have automatic chip timing for our inexpensive club races, the timers have to press a button every time someone crosses the line, and having someone not included in the official scores could screw that up. I don't want to be responsible for problems with assigning the correct times to finishers. But crossing the finish line is the highlight of a race for me; that adrenaline surge is the big payoff and a large part of why I race rather than running purely for fitness.

But I don't feel great about having to check the box that says "male" either. If male only meant sex then I'd be more willing to do it, especially now that I'm taking testosterone; while not everyone goes on hormone therapy for the purpose of attaining a "male" body (interesting discussion on that in this week's Tranifesto), that is the reason I'm doing it, because I see sex as entirely separate from gender. But the vast majority of people don't, and for them male=man, as illustrated by the race director who announced "make sure that if you're a woman you have an orange tag, and if you're a man you have a white tag." (Mine was green.) Trying to explain how I could be male but not a man is not something I really want to do in a racing environment. And when the weather is warmer, I'm going to have a much harder time reading as male, because I don't wear bras anymore and my breasts under a running shirt are rather obvious.

I haven't been on hormones long enough to have any real advantage over female runners, but I wouldn't want to check the "female" box regardless. If I were transitioning the other way, or competing at an elite/professional level, it would be a trickier issue at this stage. But for me, the choice is between registering as male or not racing at all. I'm leaning toward the former, because I really enjoy racing and don't want to have to stop until I've passed some legal or medical threshold that makes me more "fully" male. Dilemmas, dilemmas...
Tags: fitness, gender

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