US elite runner Nikki Hiltz has come out as transgender and non-binary in a heartfelt post on social media.
The runner, who is a six-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 All-American and an Adidas runner, came out as trans on Instagram on Wednesday (31 March), which was celebrated as International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Hiltz, whose Instagram bio lists her pronouns as “she/they”, has been openly gay for many years. She opened her Instagram post by saying: “Hi I’m Nikki and I’m transgender. That means I don’t identify with the gender I was assigned at birth.”
They added that they currently describe their gender as non-binary and said the best way to describe their “gender is as fluid”. Hiltz said: “Sometimes I wake up feeling like a powerful queen and other days I wake up feeling as if I’m just a guy being a dude, and other times I identify outside of the gender binary entirely.”
She said that being open about her gender identity is “both exciting and terrifying”, but that being “vulnerable and visible” is essential “in creating social change and acceptance”.
“So here I am, once again, coming out of the closet to be my true authentic self,” Nikki Hiltz wrote.
In a 2020 interview with Women’s Running, Hiltz shared that she came out to her family as gay in 2016. They said coming out and living as their authentic self meant that they could break through barriers that were holding back their running career.
“When I decided to be who I am, a weight was lifted,” Hiltz said. “I don’t think my breakthrough season was coincidental – I was holding back this part of me, hiding it and burying it.”
She added: “When you’re happy and holistic off the track, it’s going to translate on the track. That was that.”
Hiltz wrote on Twitter on Thursday (1 April) that “there’s nothing like the morning after coming out”, adding: “This morning there are nerves, excitement and a heart full of gratitude.
“All I can say is thank you, it feels so good to be seen.”