ESPN: The Body Issue

BODYISSUE

It’s official! I am a part of the 2016 Body Issue! I shot my part before my trip to Spain – I’ll detail the whole experience once the issue is released. I am equal parts excited and overwhelmed with excitement (they are little different), but I am so pumped to be a part of this, for a few reasons:

  1. For 29 years, I did not want to have my photo taken. What I saw reflected back (and documented forever) did not align with the way I felt inside, or how I saw myself. I am so proud to be at a point where I am comfortable in my own skin.
  2. I think it’s important for people to see that trans athletes exist, and be an example for others. I am not saying yall need to take your clothes off! I’m just saying, visibility is a powerful tool to fight against oppression and discrimination.
  3. The first thing I said to the reporter who profiled me in October was, “I want to be in the Body Issue.” They passed it on and the rest is history. SO COOL.
  4. I wanted to share my abs with you. 🙂

Look at this list! From the first two paragraphs of the ESPN article announcing the names:

Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, UFC fighter Conor McGregor, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta are among the athletes who will shed their clothes to appear in ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue.

Ten men and nine women will appear in the magazine, which announced the athlete list for the eighth annual Body Issue on Tuesday. The featured participants include Team USA duathlete Chris Mosier, who will be the first transgender athlete to pose.

Check this link for a sneak preview video, and look for the release on July 6 online and July 8 in print.

Outspoken Interview

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.51.37 PMI recently did an interview with the fun guys at Outspoken – full posting below, and link to their great shows here!

OUTSPOKEN IS A LOCAL RADIO PROGRAM ON KYRS FEATURING THE UNIQUE VOICES OF 2.5 VERY DIFFERENT GAY MEN.

TUNE IN SUNDAYS

FROM 12:00 TO 2:00
88.1 AND 92.3 FM

 

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NYC bathroom and locker room use

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order requiring all city agencies to ensure that everyone in NYC has access to bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity or expression. The executive order stipulates that no one will be required to show identification, medical documents, or any other documentation to verify their gender in order to use the facilities.

City agencies have three months to post this new policy, and will be required to provide training for city agency managers and front line staff who interface with the public.

As a transgender athlete who was denied access to a locker room in a public facility, I appreciate Mayor de Blasio’s effort to protect LGBTQ people in New York City. This policy will protect not only LGBTQ New Yorkers, but also all of the guests we have in our city. This makes NYC one of the most inclusive places for transgender athletes.

The key piece of this is the educational component. By requiring training for both supervisors and front line workers, we will ensure this will not be another posted policy that people ignore or forget. This will change the culture of our city services, including NYC Parks and Recreation facilities, which operates more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 550 tennis courts, 66 public pools, 48 recreational facilities, 17 nature centers, 13 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches in the five boroughs.

In the past six months, I have presented on LGBTQ Inclusion in NYC Recreation Spaces twice, to over 100 front line workers and managers. I applaud NYC Parks and Recreation for their proactive approach to incorporating this training in their inclusion summits and ongoing education, and look forward to seeing other city agencies get trained as well. Using the bathroom is a basic human need, and all people should be allowed to do so without jumping through hoops.

New York City’s public schools already has a policy that students must be allowed to use locker rooms or restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

 

Texas discriminates against transgender high school athletes

Yesterday it was announced that representatives from Texas school districts had overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal aimed at barring transgender boys and girls from participating in athletics alongside their cisgender peers.

The Texas Observer reports “District superintendents and athletic directors voted 409-25 in favor of using birth certificates to determine student athletes’ gender, according to results obtained by the Observer through a request under the Texas Public Information Act.

Transathlete_K12_infographic_feb16This is not a well-informed or inclusive policy, and ranks Texas among the worst states in the nation for transgender youth.

This policy actively excludes students whose gender identity does not match their birth certificate – a document that is challenging for a young person to change. It forces students to negotiate their own gender identity in a way that stalls their ability to be their authentic selves, and is a barrier to inclusion.

There are many documented physical, emotional, social, and educational benefits associated with playing sports that last into adulthood. These include characteristics, skills, and values I personally developed through athletics, such as leadership skills, teamwork, communicating with others, goal setting, dedication, my work ethic, and perseverance, among many others.

Trans people practice the last of these mentioned, perseverance, every day by existing in a society which tells them they do not belong and are not wanted. High school is a time when all young people struggle with self confidence and long for acceptance from peers, but trans students face discrimination at a higher rate than their cisgender peers, and they are constantly “othered” by peers, teachers, and administrators who are not educated or equipped to support trans students. It is the responsibility of those in charge to stand up and advocate for all students, and Texas has failed to do so.

Texas is denying transgender youth the opportunity to connect with others, enjoy competitiveness and the benefits of physical activity, and have a high school experience similar to their peers.

At the high school level, the focus should be on enabling athletic participation for all students. Texas school leaders have a responsibility to ensure that transgender athletes can participate in a way that is safe, comfortable, and affirming of their identity.

Allowing athletes to participate in accordance to their affirmed gender identity the best policy when considering equity and fairness for all students.

For more information on high school policies for transgender athletes, visit the K-12 page of TransAthlete.com.

For tips on how to create inclusive policies for high school trans athletes, click here.

 

NPR / WNYC

I was lucky enough to be on The Takeaway this week, talking trans athletes and policy.The Takeaway, is collaborative show from PRI Public Radio International and WNYC Radio, with editorial partners The New York Times and WGBH Boston. The program’s goal is to advance an authentic American conversation on issues and topics of importance. I love doing radio shows – so far they have been great conversations and very well edited.

Also, I am impressed (but not surprised) with my friends, many of whom told me they either woke up to my voice or heard me during their morning routine. I love listeners of Public Radio!

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Listen to the short segment here.

PrideWorks 2015

prideworks_logoEarlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend PrideWorks at Pace University. I attended last year and was thrilled to be asked back by Anthony Nicodemo, who puts together a panel discussion for this conference annually. Over 600 LGBTQ and ally youth attended this year’s conference. What an awesome opportunity to let young people know they can be queer and be successful in sports!prideworks_2015

This year, Anthony, Derek Schell, and I spoke with high school students about our experiences as LGBTQ athletes and coaches. We talked about making the team atmosphere more inclusive, interrupting biased comments and actions, being a good ally, and how to navigate the coming out experience on a team.

A few athletes asked for help with deciding on a college – would their identity hurt them in the recruiting process? Would they be able to be out on a team, or would they have to be closeted? Derek’s story was helpful for the students to hear and weight the options. Derek attended a very conservative college and struggled for a long time with trying to hide his identity from his team and those around him. We discussed how students could determine if a college was LGBTQ friendly, and how to assess the athletic department and team cultures as well.

After the presentations, a few students told me they attended last year and returned to hear me again – which was very nice. There were plenty of new faces in the audience as well, and the most valuable part of the session for me was our Q&A, where the students shared their own experiences as an LGB person or as an ally. Hearing them talk about their experiences gave all of us on the panel an inside look as to what it’s like in high schools for athletes today.

We shared our resources, listed below for you as well:

GO! Athletes for support and community – GO! Athletes is the largest network of current and former LGBTQ student athletes

Trans*Athlete for trans*-inclusive policies – Trans*Athlete is a resource for athletes, coaches, and administrators on trans*-inclusive policies at various levels of play

Campus Pride for college assessment – Campus Pride’s annual index and sport’s index can help students make informed decisions about their education

You Can Play for visible signs of support – many athletes have made You Can Play videos

Big thank you to Anthony for having me be a part of this awesome event again!

SHAPE Magazine

I’m quoted in this article about the recent incident at Planet Fitness regarding transgender inclusion in sports.

shapePlanet Fitness, known for a “Judgment Free Zone” policy designed to make all gym-goers feel welcome, is standing by its code after a Michigan customer recently objected to a transgender woman in the female locker rooms, saying she thought the person was a man. The gym revoked the customer’s membership after receiving her formal complaint, and asked her to stop talking about the incident to other gym members, according tonews reports. In a statement, Planet Fitness said that, according to their policy, their customers can use the locker rooms (and all other gym facilities) based on the gender they identify with.”

Read more…