On November 12, I took part in a panel with Campus Pride and The StandUp Foundation to talk about #StandUpDay, being an LGBTQ athlete, and how others can stand up to bullying.
Campus Pride explains StandUp Day: “StandUp Day, held annually on November 14th, is a day of remembrance, a time to StandUp against bullying, and a time to celebrate the True Champions in our lives. Ben Cohen is known as one of the world’s best athletes and founder of the StandUp Foundation. November 14 marks the day when Ben’s father died as a result of violence inflicted upon him when he stood up for an employee who was being attacked. This day serves to promote the vision of the StandUp Foundation as a memorial for Ben’s father and all who have been lost to violence and hate.”
The panelists were amazing:
Anna Aagenes is a community organizer, LGBTQ activist, athlete, and speaker. Anna is one of the Co-Founders and currently, the Executive Director of GO! Athletes
Chris Mosier is an American transgender advocate, triathlete, and speaker (I love that this was taken directly from my Wikipedia page!)
Lauren Neidigh is an NCAA Swimmer at the University of Arizona
Julie Shaw is the Women’s Basketball Head Coach at the University of La Verne
Monica Rochon is a community organizer, race and gender justice advocate, Tampa Bay Inferno Tackle Football Player.
We had a great conversation about how we and others stand up to LGBTQ bias in athletics, our personal experiences, and how others can stand up. Watch the Google Hangout (which was archived in its entirety on YouTube) HERE and see me make funny faces when I talk.
Resources listed during the end of the panel are below:
My website: www.transathlete.com
GO! Athletes, firstname.lastname@example.org
NCAA Champions of Respect document:http://www.transathlete.com/#!documents/cqh1
Breache the Silence: http://freedomsounds.org/
The National Center for Lesbian Rights: http://www.nclrights.org/
Campus Pride: www.campuspride.org
Campus Pride Sports Index: http://www.campuspride.org/tag/sports-index/
LGBT Sports Coalition https://www.facebook.com/lgbtsportscoalition
Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation: http://www.standupfoundation.com/
Download the StandUp Day action kit here.
How do I StandUp? I think one way is by intervening in situations and being an ally for other people. It’s often easier for others to stand up when something is happening than it is for the person it’s happening to – at least that has been my experience. I was so grateful for the times my partner or my friends stepped in to correct pronouns or ideas during the early phases of taking testosterone; it was embarrassing for me to make those corrections myself because I felt hurt. Now, any time I can do that for others, I do.
Other great ways to StandUp are mentioned in the G+ Hangout. Check it out!
How do YOU StandUp?
Today I went to Philadelphia to participate in a panel discussion and workshop about LGBTQ inclusion in athletics for Central League administrators, athletic directors (ADs) and coaches. The training was led by Pat Griffin (who pretty much wrote the book on the LGBTQ inclusion in sports, many years ago) and funded by a grant from the LGBT Sports Coalition and Nike.
The day began with a basic overview of LGBTQ terminology, and then some key points about inclusion. We moved into the panel discussion to share our personal stories, with Nora Cothren (hockey), Seth Pamperin (tennis), and me. Nora did a great job of setting this up at her former high school, and the hope is that a similar training could take place with coaches in the spring. It was also great to hear Seth share his story as a top tennis player and as a religious person. My story seemed to hijack the conversation a little bit, because the ADs were interested in creating policies for trans* athletes.
Trans* inclusion seems to be the most difficult topic at the high school level; this was somewhat encouraging, because for the most part it seemed like the folks present understood that lesbian and gay athletes are out there (many raised their hands saying they had coached them or known of gay athletes on their teams in the past) and that they need to be included on teams, which left trans* identities as the area of the unknown.
I love doing panels like this, and I absolutely love hearing Nora share her experiences. We each have such a different experience in our understanding of ourselves, how we came to that understanding, how we coped along the way, and how we came out.
There were several incredible moments in this workshop: hearing some of the thoughtful and sensitive questions asked by administrators gave me hope that proactive measures for inclusion are a very real possibility, seeing the moment when one of the folks realized a solution to a facilities issue they were faced with, and hearing a participant talk through their changed perception of a student experience were all amazing snippets. But I think the highlight of this event for me was hearing Pat tell Nora and me about her mother – seeing Pat laugh so hard about a memory of covering and exposing her own identity really hit home for me. It was a special memory that I felt privileged to witness.
This was another excellent event that I was fortunate to participate in. Many thanks to Nora, Pat, and Seth for allowing me to share today with them.
This week was a great week of panels, starting with an #outforwork panel on Monday at Fordham University, and followed by a Queerness in Athleticism panel on Wednesday.
The Out for Work panel was with a variety of folks in different professions, talking about coming out at work, being out while applying to jobs, and how to share or not share information on a resume or in the workplace. The perspectives were diverse and interesting. I focused on my athletics and higher education experiences and coming out as both queer and trans*. I also learned about the Bronx, as three of the panelists were from the Bronx and shared more about my least-visited borough.
Wednesday’s Queerness in Athleticism panel at CUNY was great. Moderated by Truett L Vaigneur Jr, the panel consisted of 3 people I love and 2 new folks who were great to meet as well. My perspective as the only trans* athlete on the panel was a bit different – we talked a lot about bonding and fitting in on a team – but I think added a good dimension to the conversation. I really enjoy doing panels, despite looking like I’m sleeping in this photo:
Missing in this shot is the amazing Nevin Caple, who had to jet out pre-photo.
As part of yesterday’s panel, I was fortunate enough to meet 2x Olympic medalist hockey player and US delegate to the Sochi Games Caitlin Cahow. I’ve read a few interviews with and columns by her recently, one of my favorites being her piece online at USA Today – and it was great to hear her talk about going to Russia and get a brief glimpse into her experience as an out world class athlete. Caitlin is a great role model and representative of our country and I’m honored to have gotten a chance to meet her and hear her speak.
Today was the Inaugural Harvard LGBTQ Conference, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of the LGBTQ Athlete panel. Moderated by Patrick Burke, the panel featured Jose Estevez, Caitlin Cahow, Nevin Caple, James Nutter, and me. Interesting to hear small pieces of so many perspectives and experiences – 45 minutes is not enough for this group!