Aside

What took so long?

Last week, I published a blog post on Original Plumbing Online. I’ve been blogging for OP for a few years now – at times, regularly, and more recently, randomly with months between posts. I sat on this last one for over a month. Actually, longer. I had probably written it in my head 30 times in the past six months. Once it was written, it took me a month to send Amos the text (you can read it in full here and then come back to this if you want).

Why the wait?

Well… a lot of things, actually. I think I can wrap it up in a list:

1. My teammates were really pumped about their opportunities and I didn’t want to be negative about it.
2. I didn’t really know how to say it.
3. I It was upsetting and I was trying to think of the most diplomatic way of handling it. For a while, that was by not talking about it.
4. My team has a long standing relationship with this company and I wasn’t sure how team leaders would take it.
5.  didn’t want it to be true.

The experience that really prompted me to share this was the Brooks Pure Project Trunk Show at the New York Running Company. What an awesome experience – beyond the clothing being great, I really appreciated being specifically asked to be a part of it, with the people asking me knowing me and my identity. Essentially, my identity being a non-issue at that event escalated my feelings about my identity being an issue for the sports company.

Another reason I’m thinking about this – still – is that I have a few big events coming up that I’d really love support for, and I’m not sure I can get it. I’m working on my pitch. And my confidence in being worth supporting following this incident.

Someone commented on the blog post asking why I would even want to be associated with a company that was not accepting of me, and the answer is that I wouldn’t want to be – but also that I deep down want to be accepted and embraced for who I am, all of who I am, and the feeling of being rejected presumably based on my identity was upsetting. In summary, my major issue with this is that it happened at all.

I’m still uneasy about it but being upset about something I can’t change won’t help me find the Imagesupportive network I want to build around myself. So here’s the story in case you missed it, and here’s to finding new sponsors and fans who will support me as I work towards my goals this season and into the future.

 

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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.