Andee Scallion, aka Miss Identified, has been involved in Roller Derby since May 15, 2012, when she attended an open recruitment for the Hartford Area Roll Derby (HARD) league in Vernon, Connecticut. Right from the very get go she found herself facing concern over her identity when the league waiver form offered only two choices for gender: male or female. “I wasn’t living full-time as a woman so I contemplated what to check,” explained Scallion of how the options made her feel. It was at that moment though that she made a powerful decision for herself. “I decided, for the first time in my life, that I would do this as a female and not as a transgender female.”
Excited with her decision to become involved in the sport while identifying as a woman, and not a transwoman, Scallion check the box which best suited her. However, with no gender policies in place she worried about being TOO involved as a skater. “I was afraid someone would notice or find out that I am transgender and ask me to leave. I purposely chose [the] NSO path rather than [the] “skater track” because I was concerned [about] what may happen if I learned how to skate well enough to be on a team.”
Fortunately, some of those concerns were alleviated when, within her first few months of being with HARD, the league developed new by-laws in order to join the WFTDA Apprentice League Program. “We were each given a 48 page copy to read through and understand. I flipped it open and just happened to be on page 23… Gender Policy,” Scallion explained. “I started to read that and could not believe what I was reading. They copied the WFTDA gender policy! I was thrilled to death that I could not be kicked out!”
Scallion is now a rostered skater on the Beat City Bedrockers. There has been a few bumps in the road along the way such as several individuals constantly using male pronouns when adressing her, despite her politely correcting them numerous times, and one instance of a nearby league complaining about her involvement in the sport, but HARD has had Scallion’s back through it all. “I had an incident with another league where a skater complained about “a male skating for HARD”. I offered to step down as a rostered team member and go back to NSOing, as I didn’t want to cause embarrassment to the league,” she explained of the situation. However, the board of directors for HARD would not allow her, or them, to be bullied. “The president, VP of skater relations, and the secretary all told me they would not accept my resignation and that if ANYBODY EVER gave me any shit, the league would come down on them and stand up for me.”
SCALLION: I had a difficult time picking a derby name. I really could not think of anything. I was leaning toward “Ponygirl” and a friend suggested “Rap-Scallion” as in my last name. One night a new freshie asked if I could give her a ride home. She is lesbian and joined the league after meeting me at “ladies night” as I told her I was doing this. During the ride, she slipped and called me “he”. She apologized profusely and said “omg Andee I am sorry that I just mis-gendered you!!!”. Hmmm. I thought “Genny Bender” would be a cool and appropriate name. Most of the people who knew my story thought that was perfect. I wasn’t thrilled though and the day we were selecting names I picked “Ragin Ponygirl”. That sounded SO dumb! 2 weeks later I was thinking I am tired of people in the league mis-identifying me with male pronouns. So then it hit me! “Miss Identified” was created!! I LOVE my name!!!
KEVLAR: What does Roller Derby mean to you as a woman and as a transgender athlete?
SCALLION: Wow! Before I joined I was struggling with being transgender. I was so afraid to go to any place new. I had 2 safe places and pretty much stuck to them. I felt awkward going into a store, the mall, of just being outside during the daylight. Roller Derby has been so empowering to me as a woman. Being in the league has been affirming, and has built my self-confidence. It has made me mentally and physically strong. Being the only transgender athlete in my league, and in any league in New England, or that we have bouted in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, has been empowering to me as a transgender athlete. I am the only one around here, I am open about my identity, people understand my name, and I have made SO many friends in other leagues.
KEVLAR: What can roller derby leagues do to create a comprehensive, clear Transgender/Gender Identity/Gender Expression Inclusion Policy?
SCALLION: I really like the WFTDA gender policy guidelines. Not every transgender skater thinks it is inclusive enough and some are not in agreement with the language. But it was a stepping stone for me. I think that all leagues need to adopt something similar and promote it. Otherwise, there will be more people like me who are afraid to join.
KEVLAR: When he WFTDA first proposed their new Gender Inclusion Policy a number of leagues opposed the fact that transgender or intersex athletes had to produce health-records upon request to prove that the “athlete’s sex hormones are within the medically acceptable range for a female” but cis-gendered women did not. Jocelyn Jenik of the Philly Roller Girls said: “I think this policy was produced out of fear, and that fear was then projected onto transgender skaters in a discriminatory way. The only demand for producing health-care records for private information is on transgender skaters, no one else.” Now that the WFTDA Gender Policy has been in effect for just over two years, have you personally encountered any issues with it that warrant discussion or examination?
SCALLION: Yes I have. The biggest one I mentioned earlier. A skater in one of the leagues in our state complained to another skater about me. She didn’t think it was fair that HARD has a male skater and felt that “any guy could put on a dress and become a member of HARD”.
Fortunately, I have friends in many leagues and a woman I know in that particular league overheard this conversation and brought it to my attention. I had already skated in 4 bouts up to that point, but I felt that this information would be detrimental to my league and I offered to resign. I also asked my endocrinologist, just a few months earlier, if she would write letter for me that stated my hormone levels. My levels are perfect. I had been carrying this letter in my bag for perhaps 6 months just in case somebody complained about me. After my coach told me that she would kick my ass if I resigned, I handed her this letter that she made certain to place in our Bedrockers team paperwork and would produce if anybody even hinted about complaining about me.
I have also been to events with my league and have had people laugh when I tell them I’m in the league too. Like they are in disbelief. A woman said to me “I am going to see WOMEN skate.”, when I had mentioned that I was skating in the bout she was going to the next day. I generally encounter guys who will say “yeah right”, when I tell them I am in HARD too.
KEVLAR: For what feels like the bajillionth time now, in light of Chloie Jonsson’s battle against Crossfit to be allowed to compete as a woman “competitive advantage” once again seems to be the main point of discussion in regards to transgender athletes competing in gender segregated sports/competitions. What are your thoughts on this conception that transgender athletes “have a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women” (according to CrossFit’s company lawyer at least)?
SCALLION: What advantage can there possibly be to take testosterone blockers and estrogen and to lose all of your muscle mass? I became physically weaker and lost what little body strength I had been “born with” as a male. Plenty of women are bigger, stronger, taller, and faster than me. Some women have higher testosterone levels in their bodies than I do! My muscle to bone ratio is lower than cis-gender woman. Where is my “male-advantage?”
I have become physically stronger as a female than I ever was as a male. I did this over the past 2 years from hard work and spending 5 days at the gym and in working with a personal trainer. However….I realize that I will always carry that stigma and if I were to ever excel in roller derby or any other sport as a woman…people would say “well it isn’t fair because she USED to me a man”.
KEVLAR: Are there any other issues or concerns within the sport of Roller Derby that you have seen or personally experienced as a transgender woman that you feel need to be addressed more in discussion about the sport?
SCALLION: I feel isolated and alone often. More by my own league than by others. I think there is some resentment among a couple of the more vocal women about me being there. I can handle it. Sure people are accepting and some of the people say “we love you Miss I!”. But there are times where I feel excluded and apart from things.
It is mostly in my head though. I get invited to some parties and events, but I don’t really hang out with anyone in my league other than my wifey. I’m not sure anything can be done about this however. On another note… the league can do more to educate the public about me and show that they are an inclusive, supporting, and diverse group of women. I have been educating people in the league about transgender people. The league could feature or promote me to show the public that they support me.
I am also a lesbian. People really don’t understand that at all! It can be part of another conversation some day….lol
With only 4-days to go in Trans* Awareness in Sports Week!