MILWAUKEE — The stage is set for the USA Triathlon (USAT) National Championships in Milwaukee this weekend, and for the first time ever there's a division for non-binary athletes.
"To us, it was an easy add. Why not add a category if it's going to bring more athletes to the sport," USAT Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Acess Senior Manager Megan Ritch said.
USAT added the division to all its competitions this year and to its membership system. There will also be rankings and awards for non-binary athletes competing.
Chip Vaiu has participated in about 20 triathlons and said this change gives them chills in the best way possible.
"It's always been male or female. So now, it's not like let me go ask the authorities if I belong. It just is. There's not questions. It's automatic acceptance," Viau said.
Right now just one non-binary athlete is registered for the competition in Milwaukee this weekend. But, Ritch said there are 60 non-binary athletes already registered in the USAT Membership, including Viau.
"Since it is a new category, it will take a few years for it to really grow," Ritch said.
Although Viau is not competing in Milwaukee this week, they are confident more and more people will join USAT because of that. Viau hopes to compete in the national championships next year and expects there to be healthy competition in their division.
"It's not always about winning. It's about being included wherever you go and then if you want to get competitive, that's fine. But that's not the key for most people in this community. They just want to be seen. If they happen to win a medal, that's great. Speaking for myself, I do want to come in first against people," Viau said.
The USAT Youth Triathlon and the Legacy Triathlon earlier this year also included non-binary divisions. USAT has been including transgender athletes since 2017. Transgender athletes compete in the male or female categories depending on how they identify.
USAT transgender policy can be found here.