Friday, October 30, 2009

Coming out Part II/Being an out college Trans athlete

When I started my senior year of college one of the 1st things I had to do was have a conversation with the new head coach. That was pretty easy which I was very thankful for and very surprised by. When her and I met she had a list of questions for me which were mainly: "Why now?" "What made you decide that this was the right decision?", "How did your parents take it?", "How can we help make this easier". After that her and I decided that we would both talk to the team, and that we were going to do everything possible to make sure the focus was on the team and not me. I was already a focus since I was one of the best throwers in the country in DIII. We had a lot of outstanding athletes and so we wanted to have an equal focus on them so they could be recongnized for their accomplishments in sports. I thought that was perfect and I always believed in the team before the person. When I told the team, they were pretty much like oh whatever that is now big deal, we still like you. They were awesome and were like we may slip on the name since we got used to calling you by your birth name but other than that no big deal. I can count on one hand how many times my whole team slipped on my name or pronouns. The team was also asked not to talk to reporters so that what got out could be filtered and funneled through to the right people, so the right things were said.
The season went buy with relatively no problems, as far as competition was concerned. I had a couple of sneers of there's the tranny throwing, and what's it doing and what not. I had a forum started on why I shouldn't be allowed to compete in track and field as either a man or a woman. The most insulting moment though came from my own college. They every year award a male athlete and a female athlete athlete of the year award. That year was my year to win, I was put on the back burner so that other senior athletes could win it. But that year, my whole team even was waiting in anticipation of me receiving the award. And honestly that was the only award I wanted, since I was constantly seen as less of an athlete than my colleagues and this was my way of separating myself. At that time I was the most decorated female athlete in the history of the school, and that time they decided not to give it because I "chose" to not conform to gender norms, and they couldn't very well allow me to named female athlete of the year after I came out as being male identified despite the fact I competed as a female and still do. My team was enraged and protested the award, my coaches almost lost their jobs defending me, and my teammates wrote letters of complaint that in the end were used against me despite the fact that to this day I don't know who wrote them. My college decided at that point that they were going to use me as their diversity poster child but when it came to defending me they dropped the ball. They justified their lack of action by saying they already did so much and couldn't justify doing any more, and that the fact that my teammates called them transphobic (without my knowledge) was uncalled for and warranted their lack of support. Much to their chagrin or not, I ended up graduating the most decorated athlete in the history of my college. A two-time national champion, 16 time all-american, as well as holding a national record that still is in place 4 years later.
After that I stopped throwing for my college, I began throwing for me, and said fuck it to everyone who didn't understand or want to. After I made that transition I never threw better. But that was only the beginning of discrimination, transphobia and hatred that I would face as both a Trans athlete, and as a Transgender person.

Transitions are a part of everyday life, they don't always have to physical. The smallest changes are often times the most meaningful.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coming out

Where I grew up and how I grew up you didn't know what Transgender was. I always knew I was different, for instance I never knew I was gay until I was told by a psychologist that I was gay because I was a woman and liked women, I just automatically thought I was a guy. Once I was in College I took a class that briefly went into what transgender was and all that and it fit so perfectly it clicked. I started telling girlfriends, but they all left because I was ruining their lesbian identity. After awhile I thought it was a bad thing, it was a curse to be Trans, especially with sports. I had no idea what I was going to do, I was an all-american multiple times over, I was starting to get close to having options for continuing throwing outside of school once I graduated. Why did I have to be Trans? THat was all I could think, that was all I kept coming back to, was why was I Trans? I honestly kept asking that question till the last year, when I finally became ok with who and what I am. I was really worried about coming out to anyone else because I knew what the rules were for Transgender people, and I knew the NCAA didn't have any. I was also so afraid that my school would ban me from track, and track was the only thing I had at the time.
I finally decided to come out my senior year of College because I was going down a slippery slope and I didn't think I could pull myself out if I didn't come out. Before I came out I was cutting everyday I knew I had to come out, when I finally really hurt myself because I couldn't live like that anymore. When I came out as trans I did so with the understanding that I was not going to be taking T or having any surgery. I first told the Athletic director, and my professor mentor since the women's track team was getting a new coach and we needed to game plan. Both of them were awesome and helped me cover all corners at the time. That was the spring semester of my Junior year. After that I had to tell my parents.
Telling my parents to date has still been the hardest of everyone. When I told them I made sure I would be able to leave and it was towards the end of the summer. My mother just cried and cried, my father told me I ripped his heart out, and killed a part of him. I left their house shortly after that.