OP Column: Speaking and speaking out

On Wednesday, I had an amazing day at Prideworks, a conference for LGBT youth. I spoke with other GO! Athletes folks in a session on LGBTQ in Athletics, and had the opportunity to hear stories from high school students who face bullying, discrimination, and intimidation at their schools because of their real or perceived identities. It was an eye opening experience. I wrote more about it and the need for visibility over at OriginalPlumbing.com.

The truth is, transgender topics in media and news are becoming more common, but the way they are approached is mostly for clicks/views. That is, it seems to me that most stories of trans* folks are either controversial or sensational, or to check a box of coverage because it is a trending topic right now. Most stories about trans* athletes are about discrimination, and primarily against or blocking the participation of trans* women in sports. 

Many trans* people stop playing sports when they transition because the policies are too invasive or restrictive to allow for their comfortable participation. This is why we hear very few stories of trans* athletes still competing at a high level after switching gender categories.

Visibility increases awareness, and awareness helps greatly with creating policies which are inclusive. Most policy changes we have seen in athletics regarding trans* inclusion have been reactive instead of proactive – it has taken a strong individual to assert their right to participate, and force change to happen. As more trans* athletes share their stories, leagues, organizations, and states have started to take notice and work more proactively to have something in place before a trans* or gender non-conforming person shows up. It’s a slow process, but visibility and awareness are indeed creating change.

Read the OP blog post HERE.




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