CeCé Telfer says she felt seen by her contemporaries after being ruled ineligible to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, People reports.
Telfer, who identifies as transgender, said in the interview that she received a groundswell of support from her fellow athletes.
“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,” she recalled. “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.”
Although she couldn’t run in Tokyo, she’s planning to compete in the 2022 World Championships and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
“I know what I can achieve. I know what I’m capable of and it’s not over,” she said.
Back in June, it was announced that Telfer would not compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic trials because she did not meet the requirements established by World Athletics for certain women’s events because of her testosterone levels.
According to World Athletics guidelines, one of the requirements to be eligible to participate in the female category at an international competition is that “her testosterone levels must be less than 5 nanomoles per liter for a period of at least 12 months.”
Telfer, Namibian sprinters Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, and South African Caster Semenya were either banned from certain events or from participating for the entire Olympics, The Hill reports.
Previously, Telfer competed on the men’s team at Franklin Pierce University, before taking time off and returning to compete for the women’s team. In 2019, she became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA title.
cecé telfer (she/her) – first openly trans woman to win an ncaa title, first place in the 400-meter hurdles event at ncaa championships. pic.twitter.com/0lxKGd5foa
— ★ jacobi/amir/dmitri ★ (@fourofwands_) March 31, 2021
Also in the interview, Telfer announced a partnership with Michelob Ultra‘s new campaign, “Save It, See It,” that promotes gender equality in sports. On Women’s Equality Day, the campaign launched by committing $100 million over the next five years while “striving to represent men’s and women’s sports equally through their own brand,” according to People.
Telfer spoke about the need to have gender equity and why her partnership with Michelob is essential in the fight for change.
“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.”
As transgender people fight for equality in athletics and in the larger society, Telfer noted the importance of feeling affirmed by her competitors in her moment of difficulty.
“It was great to see that,” she added. “I felt like I mattered, I felt like I was seen by my competitors.”