By Chris Mosier
Visibility is powerful. In my own coming out process as a transgender man and competitive athlete, I struggled considering how I could transition and still play sports because I didn’t see any trans guys in athletics competing at the level at which I wanted to compete. Like many others questioning their identity, I felt like I was the only one going through this, and it was a challenge to navigate my transition without a role model or mentor along the way.
We all want, in some way, to see ourselves reflected back when we look out into the world. As a trans athlete, I no longer feel I am searching for a mirror – I feel as though I am the reflection, and that I have an obligation to younger athletes to be visible as a trans athlete so they see the possibilities for themselves.
As the Executive Director of GO! Athletes, I can proudly say that is exactly what we do. GO! Athletes is a support network of current and former lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer college and high school student athletes. GO! Athletes provides visibility for LGBTQ athletes through story sharing and personal narratives. In panel discussions, presentations and workshops, we spread awareness about the challenges faced by LGBTQ student athletes, how best to be an ally and support them and ways to make athletic teams and departments more inclusive.
Stepping into the Executive Director role has been a good opportunity for me to incorporate my knowledge of transgender inclusion in athletics into the conversation about student athletes. As the founder of TransAthlete.com, a resource for athletes, coaches and administrators on trans-inclusive policies as various levels of play, and through personal experience, I know there is no standard for trans-inclusion in sports at this point. GO! Athletes’ network has had access to educational sessions about trans-inclusion in sports, and been able to incorporate the “T” into their LGBTQ talks on campuses and in public forums.
The strength of GO! Athletes is in its network, which contains much of the young, vibrant and eager energy of the LGBTQ sports movement. We reach out to younger athletes who share their stories and make sure they feel connected. Within our network athletes can find support, share their stories and learn how to be better leaders on their teams, at their schools and in their communities. On our network calls, athletes can discuss initiatives or issues at their schools as well as find support for situations they have encountered.
We continue to strengthen and expand our network as more people come out in sports. And more people come out in sports because of the visibility of those before them. It’s a cycle that is changing the landscape of athletics as we know it. The future of GO! Athletes is focused on the combination of visibility, education and advocacy within the LGBTQ sports movement.
Later this year we will launch a first-of-its-kind program to strengthen our network connections and the skills of young leaders in the LGBTQ sports community. We are extremely excited to enhance the level of support current and former athletes will receive and be able to extend it to others. It’s something I feel strongly about when remembering my own experiences. More information will be available on our website, goathletes.org, later this summer.
I highly encourage current and former athletes of any age or level of play to join us in making it easier and safer for other athletes to be themselves. There are a number of ways people of any competitive level, age or level of “outness” can be involved in our network. For more information, see goathletes.org or email me at [email protected]
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