South Korea’s First Transgender Athlete in an Official Competition

Na Hwa-rin, a cyclist, won her event in the Gangwon-do Provincial Games.

South Korea’s First Transgender Athlete in an Official Competition

Photo: Na Hwa-rin holds up a gold medal.  Credit: Facebook page of Na Hwa-rin.

On June 1, cyclist Na Hwa-rin 나화린 announced that she would enter the 58th Provincial Games of Gangwon-do Province 제58회 강원도민체전, which began on June 3, becoming South Korea’s first transgender athlete to enter an official competition.

The 37-year-old Na, who is a trans woman, competed in six events including the women’s individual 4 kilometer race. An asparagus farmer in her main occupation, Na previously entered the 2012 Provincial Games and won four gold medals in cycling. Twenty-two civic groups including Rainbow Action Against Sexual Minority Discrimination 성소수자차별반대 무지개 행동 and Amnesty International Korea 국제 앰네스티 한국지부 issued a statement in support of Na’s entry.

Currently, South Korea’s official sports events have no rules against the participation of transgender athletes. Na won her event in cycle racing, and said: “Based on my race today, I think there needs to be a third category of competition in addition to men’s and women’s.”

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