British racing driver Charlie Martin was announced on Tuesday as the first ever racing driver to join the Athlete Ally ambassador programme.
Established by American wrestler Hudson Taylor in 2011, Athlete Ally is an organisation believes that everyone should have equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports — regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Charlie Martin, who is aiming to become the first transgender competitor at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans, is the first racing driver to join the ranks of sporting ambassadors from a range of sports including golf, cycling, wrestling, soccer, hockey, canoeing and athletics. The Leicester-born racer hopes to give greater visibility to the LGBTQ community in motorsport and encourage greater acceptance for everyone who wants to have a career in racing.
“I’m very proud today to be joining Athlete Ally and taking my place among such a great collective of competitors, who are driven to make a change,” said Charlie Martin. “As a transgender woman and the first racing driver to join the programme, I’m excited by the opportunities that this offers the motorsport community to actively engage in the discussion of equality in our sport. It is long overdue.”
“I hope to show that a career in motorsport is possible regardless of gender identity. There is a place for everyone in the sporting community and that is as much the case in the pitlane as on a golf course or on a football field. When I was growing up, there was no one like me that I could look up to, to show that I could have the career I want and not have to hide who I was. I hope to be that person for this generation and pave the way for the next.”
Focussing on education and advocacy, Athlete Ally ambassadors speak out against potential legislation and policies that discriminate against LGBTQ people and actively engage in new sporting policies, while simultaneously supporting LGBTQ inclusive efforts within sport and society. In 2017, they also launched the historic Athletic Equality Index: a first of its kind ranking of the LGBTQ inclusiveness of collegiate athletic departments.
“We are so pleased to welcome Charlie to our Athlete Ally Ambassador family today,” said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “We admire Charlie’s passion and drive in sharing her story and leading the way for future LGBTQ competitors in sport. We’re looking forward to working with her to increase visibility and representation within the motorsport community.”
“The athletes we remember the most are those who are silent the least. The greatest, most fondly remembered and timeless athletes are those whose careers transcend the game. Being an Athlete Ally Ambassador is one incredible way to leave a lasting legacy.”
Charlie Martin is currently competing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup with Luxembourg-based team, Racing Experience. Her next race will take place at the famous La Sarthe circuit for the opening event of the 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend.