transgender runner Nikki Hiltz won the women’s USATF Road Mile Championship on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa, setting a course record of 4:28. This is the second USATF road mile title of Hiltz’s career after she won on the same course in 2019. (Hiltz is non-binary, with the preferred pronouns they / them.) In an interview after the race, Hiltz thanked the transgender community in Iowa for its support, commenting on the number of pride flags lining the course.
Hiltz ran away with the victory in the final stretch of the race, edging out 2022 USATF 1,500m champion Sinclaire Johnson for the win. “The amount of pride flags the whole course really brought me home,” Hiltz told Citius Mag after the race. This was especially inspiring to Hiltz, as the state of Iowa has recently passed anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender legislation, including limiting transgender individuals’ access to healthcare, preventing trans students from participating in sports and even censoring discussions of LGBTQ matters in schools.
“Trans people live in Iowa,” Hiltz said. “Trans people are everywhere, and they deserve access to healthcare, access to sports.” They continued, noting that winning the race “meant more, kind of, being in a state where there is so much hateful legislation [against the trans community].”
In 2023 Iowa has passed horrible legislation against the trans community.
But you wouldn’t know that if you were in Des Moines last night. The crowd brought all the pride flags and cheers and made me, a trans athlete, feel supported safe & seen in a state attacking our community pic.twitter.com/ABGdeTGmNk
—Nikki Hiltz (@Nikki_Hiltz) April 26, 2023
Hiltz said they had considered not attending the race because of Iowa’s anti-trans legislation, but ultimately decided to race to stand in solidarity with the trans community in Iowa and beyond. “The crowd brought all the pride flags and cheers and made me, a trans athlete, feel supported safe & seen in a state attacking our community,” Hiltz tweeted on Wednesday.
Hiltz came out as a transgender in 2021, but as they said in an interview on runningforreal.com, they’re not going to take testosterone or undergo hormone therapy until they have “closed this chapter” of their running career.