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Beyond the Binary: Carla Varriale-Barker and Lauren Lubin April Speak on Non-Binary Athletics

In time for LGBTQIA and Pride Month, an interview conducted by Carla Varriale-Barker (she/her), a lecturer in Columbia University’s M.S. in Sports Management program, of Lauren Lubin April (they, them), a non-binary athlete, has been published in Sports Litigation Alert (SLA). April was the first-ever openly non-binary runner to compete in the New York City Marathon in 2016.

The interview addresses the effect of recent anti-trans legislation on non-binary athletes and the journey of WE RUN, a campaign launched by April that advocates for equal space and recognition for non-binary athletes in sports. April speaks on the importance of developing sustainable sports models and systems for athletes of all gender identities.

“Today, my initial frustrations have turned into inspiration as I see the sports world shifting in powerful ways, and congruently, my advocacy goals have transformed from the local level to the global stage. I now work with industry leaders across various verticals on building more expansive, integrative, and sustainable sports models and systems for athletes of all gender identities,” said April.

Varriale-Barker and April also discuss the role of stakeholders in implementing a genuinely inclusive environment through education, a sustainable inclusion mindset, community engagement, and non-discrimination policies and guidelines.

“No matter which way you slice it, we have surpassed the point of if we exist to how do we exist–the most significant question in my opinion,” said April.

Over one million adults in the United States identify as non-binary, according to a 2021 study by Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. The increasing number has led to the political and legal focus on LGBTQIA athletes, consequently leading to progressive societal and cultural shifts beyond the binary.

You can read the full interview between Varriale-Barker and April here. Learn more about Columbia’s Sports Management program.