Fighting for the Right to Participate and Thoughts on Coming Out from Triathlete Chris Mosier

Chris Mosier is a nationally-sponsored triathlete and is the founder of transathlete.com, a resource for athletes, coaches, educators and administrators on transgender inclusive policies in athletics.

Based in New York City, Chris is also a respected coach, educator, and trans* advocate who works in higher education and serves as a Safe Zone coordinator and consultant for NYC colleges. Chis is also a Co-Vice Chair of Trans* Inclusion at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education where he advocates for LGBT people, helps to create policies, and provides useful resources to colleges and universities regarding practices of trans* inclusion.

Last November, Chris was named Athlete of the Year at the 2013 Compete Sports Diversity Awards. He is nationally recognized as a three-time Ironman triathlete and has been featured in major publications such as The New York Times, The Advocate, OutSports, Compete Magazine and the Pride Network.

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Chris Mosier

Written by Chris Mosier for Derby Frontier

I was an athletic child and a competitive high school athlete. For as long as I can remember, being an athlete was a primary part of my identity. Into adulthood, I found friends through city league sports and recreational leagues in New York City, and when I began running and competing in triathlons, I felt like I found my place in the sports community. Participation in sports is a primary character-building experience in our society, and I felt I owed much of who I was to being a part of a team and learning the values of sportsmanship, dedication, perseverance, and respect. The thought of losing this piece of myself was a difficult one to handle.


Around the time when I started to question my gender identity and began considering transition, I was becoming more successful in my races and competitions. I was also becoming increasingly uncomfortable lining up with the women at the start of races, and was starting to experience more harassment in those moments, with people questioning whether I belonged and spectators yelling out rude comments as I ran by. When I would have a strong finish or place within my division, I hesitated to tell others because I didn’t feel like the women’s division fit for me. At the same time, my times were getting better and I was placing higher within my category. I felt like transitioning to a more authentic and comfortable version of myself would mean giving up my identity as an athlete, and my ability to be competitive.


Much of my hesitation came from fear: if I come out as trans*, what will my teammates say? Will I be able to compete in the sports I love? Will I be able to be competitive? Will I be safe?


I spent countless hours thinking of possible answers to these questions. In the end, I decided it was important for me to be comfortable in my body and with myself, regardless of how it impacted my athletic career. I was hopeful that I’d be able to find a place in sports, but I wasn’t sure because I did not see any people like myself competing.


I started off my asking a few teammates to use he/him/his pronouns with me, and to help correct others as I changed with everyone. I was nervous, to say the least. But to my surprise, my teammates did exactly what teammates do – they supported me when I needed it most, and helped lift me up to be my best self. My fears were very real for a very long time, and in the end, I was met with mostly positive reactions. I was the first trans* person most of them had met, and I was the first trans* athlete in their circles; they were open to learning more about my experience and educated themselves as well. In the end, I was still their teammate and they treated me with respect.


Transition within sports had it’s struggles: leagues did not know where to place me, LGBT-inclusive leagues were not prepared for my participation, and many sporting venues lacked safe spaces for changing during the time I did not feel comfortable using men’s locker rooms. I found that many sports organizations and leagues do not have policies for trans* inclusion, and the ones that do most often have them because a trans* person fought for their right to participate.


As a result of fighting for my own right to participate and advocating for changes which allowed me to play in leagues I was a part of, I created transathlete.com to serve as a resource for policies and better practices regarding trans* inclusion in sports. The site lists policies at every level of play, ranging from K-12 to professional, and breaks down policies by state and governing bodies as well. The site is a live document, changing as policies change, and accepts contributions from anyone who knows of trans* inclusive policies. It also provides models of policies for organizations looking to be more inclusive.


My own experience as as a trans* athlete has had its ups and downs, but I have continued to be competitive as a trans* guy competing in men’s divisions, winning my age group and placing fourth overall in my recent 140.6 triathlon. Participation in sports remains an important part of my identity and daily experience, and it is important for me to share both my story and policies to provide visibility and resources for other athletes.


Learn more about trans* inclusive policies in athletics at transathlete.com.

 

 

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