Transgender Runner CeCé Telfer Felt 'Seen' by Other Athletes After Olympic Trials Ineligibility
CeCé Telfer knows the importance of feeling represented in sports.
The transgender track star, 26, who appears in Michelob ULTRA's new campaign for gender equity in sports, tells PEOPLE she felt "seen" by her fellow competitors after she was ruled ineligible to compete at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in June.
"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 recalls. "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."
Amid various pieces of legislation that have targeted transgender women in sports, she experienced that form of athletic policing firsthand. But Telfer finds it "helpful" that fans and other athletes have shown their support while "bringing awareness to the issue."
"It was great to see that. I felt like I mattered, I felt like I was seen by my competitors," adds Telfer, who previously became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA title in 2019.
Now, Telfer is helping others feel seen through Michelob ULTRA's "Save It, See It" campaign, to encourage fans to hit "save" on women's sports highlights on social media, which will help boost visibility for female athletes. Last Thursday, on Women's Equality Day, Michelob Ultra kicked off its campaign, which committed $100 million over the next five years while striving to represent men's and women's sports equally through their own brand.
For the campaign, Telfer appears alongside WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike, analyst/reporter Andraya Carter and a lineup of other female athletes in Michelob Ultra's ad for the "Save It, See It" campaign. "Companies like Michelob, they see me and that's very important, especially for female athletes," Telfer says.
"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 continues. "So I appreciate being a part of that movement of diversity, equity and inclusion."
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The Franklin Pierce University alum is continuing to train and setting her sights on 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 says.
"All the negativity, all the backlash, turn the other cheek. Take all that negativity and put it in what you're doing," Telfer muses. "So for me, I put it on the track. When I hear all of the negativity around me, being denied and be shot down so many times, I go straight to the track and I work it out. That's when I get my best workouts."
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