In June 2021, transgender athlete CeCe Telfer was ruled ineligible to compete in the 400-meter hurdles race during the U.S. Olympic trials. Although the Tokyo 2020 Olympics marked a breakthrough for allowing transgender athletes to compete for the first time, some like Telfer were deemed ineligible to participate.
She told People that the support she received from her fellow competitors made her feel seen.
“A lot of my competitors that ran at the trials were reaching out to me, making sure that I’m safe and everything’s going well,” said Telfer. “They were just making sure that like I’m doing all right. They were like, ‘When are we going to compete?’ and ‘When are we going to run together?’ Because they want to race, they want to compete against the best.”
The warmth of her competitors meant a great deal to Telfer, who became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA title in 2019. “It was great to see that. I felt like I mattered, I felt like I was seen by my competitors,” she said.
The athlete appears in Michelob ULTRA’s “Save It, See It” campaign to promote gender equality in sports. Launched last Thursday, the campaign pledged $100 million over the next five years to help equally represent men and women in sports. Telfer wants other female athletes to feel like they matter.
“The balance of equality is very much tipped and we don’t have as much support and as much resources that we need to succeed, be our best, perform at our best and be the top athletes that we’re supposed to be,” she said. “So I appreciate being a part of that movement of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Photo credit: Into More