Marathon runner and activist Amelia Gapin is the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Women's Running
Women's Running

When Women's Running hits newsstands tomorrow, for the first time, you'll see a transgender woman on its cover. Marathon runner Amelia Gapin, 33, who was first named a finalist last fall for the magazine's cover contest, agreed to be featured in the July issue when she realized the impact her decision could have on the larger trans community.

"For me to be on the cover of a women's magazine is kind of a sense of validation that other people are seeing transgender women as women," Gapin told People.

"Running has literally saved my life time and time again. When I was transitioning, running was a safe place to deal with all of the things going on in my life and process both the ups and downs of it all. There is no way I would have survived transition without running," Gapin says in her Women's Running contest bio.

She goes on to explain how outside of transitioning, running has served as an escape for her during her battle with depression. "It's brought me peace and bliss when I most needed it. I've started runs feeling on the verge of suicide and by the end had a huge smile on my face and saw nothing but the beauty in the world. I wouldn't still be here if I didn't have running in my life." (Gapin isn't the only one. Another woman shares: "Running Helped Me Overcome Depression and Anxiety.")

As People reports, Gapin started transitioning four years ago with hormone treatments, and after a long debate ultimately decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon as a woman (something she couldn't do without the surgery). (Related: How Does Transitioning Affect a Transgender Athlete's Sports Performance?)

Gapin, who is a software engineer, activist, and co-founder of MyTransHealth, an organization that connects trans people with trans friendly doctors and quality health care, hopes that the cover will help others who are facing similar doubts by proving transitioning can be a "very positive thing"' and you can be successful-and even land the cover of a magazine while you're at it.

"I'm hoping that it shows people that are thinking about coming out, or want to transition and are afraid, that you can transition and things can go well," she says. "It's really scary to be a trans person right now with everything that's going on, and I know that a lot of people who were thinking about transition are reconsidering that."

In light of the mass shooting at an Orlando gay club this weekend, Gapin emphasized that sentiment by tweeting, "It's weird timing for this, but I hope it can be some positivity for trans people today" and "It's a scary time to have any visibility, let alone visibility like this, but I refuse to hide myself or ever stop fighting for trans people."