Chris Mosier is an American athlete, coach, and educator, and the founder of TransAthlete.com. In 2015, he became the first openly trans man to make a Men’s US National Team. He was recently featured in ESPN Magazine.
One Love, All Equal: Can you share a bit of your background with us?
Chris Mosier: Being an athlete has always been important to me. I’ve been competing in triathlons (swim/bike/run), duathlons (run/bike/run), and running races for the last seven years, and competing as male for the last five years. This year (2015), I became the first openly transgender man to make Team USA.
In addition to being an athlete, I am the Executive Director of GO! Athletes which is a national network of current and former LGBTQ student athletes. In addition, I am the founder of TransAthlete.com, a resource of trans-inclusive athletic policies at various levels of play.
OLAE: What does gender mean to you?
CM: Gender is the complex relationship between physical traits and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither, as well as one’s outward presentations and behaviors related to that perception. Gender is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy.
OLAE: When did you first realize that you were transgender?
CM: I didn’t have a solid understanding of my gender identity until I was about 28 years old. For a long time, my perception of myself and society’s expectations of me didn’t align, but I always just felt like me. It wasn’t until people were telling me that my behavior and expression was “wrong” that I began to put more thought into my identity. I didn’t have the language to articulate my thoughts and feelings about it for a long time.
OLAE: How did your family react to your transition?
CM: Transition is a transition as much for a family as it is for the person transitioning. I know my family loves me and is proud of me, and my transition has exposed them to a lot of new experiences. I am appreciative of them having an open mind and for going through the process with me.
OLAE: How should one most accurately refer to you when referring to your gender?
CM: I identify as a trans guy, and I use he/him/his pronouns. Trans man is okay too. Thanks for asking! It is so important that people use respectful language and appropriate pronouns when referring to people.
OLAE: Could you share with us a story of hope that you’ve encountered recently?
CM: One of the most inspiring moments I’ve had was being contacted by a young trans guy in high school who sent me an Instagram photo of his sports equipment.
He told me he was considering quitting sports, but then he heard me speak at a conference and talk about my experience in athletics. He said that seeing my success and hearing my message, that trans people can play the sports they love and still be their authentic self, inspired him to get a coach and to compete against men in his final year of high school.
Participation in sports is such an important part of many people’s experience growing up; I was so excited to see this young athlete continue to play
OLAE: Would you be so kind as to tell us some of the issues that a trans man faces nowadays?
CM: Everyone’s experience is different. Generally speaking, trans people face disproportionate rates of unemployment and underemployment, job discrimination and poverty, harassment, sexual violence, and violence. Trans women, and specifically trans women of color, faces the greatest concerns.
As a trans guy in athletics, my experience has been pretty under-the-radar because people did not expect me to do well while transitioning from female to male. I have not experienced the push back that trans women athletes often face. In general, trans athletes face barriers to participation in the way of locker rooms and changing facilities, uniforms, registration forms, and policies regarding gender designation when applying to participate. However, greater visibility of the topic is helping to make positive changes for trans people in sports.
OLAE: What would your advice be to the youth that hasn´t yet come out as trans?
CM: Coming out is not safe for all people, so my first piece of advice is to always be aware of your own safety and consider the pros and cons of coming out.
For a young person who may face getting kicked out of their home or a loss of financial support from their parents, coming out may not be safe. I would also tell them they are not alone. When I was considering transition and figuring out my identity I felt like I was the only one going through this. It’s important to me to be out and visible as an openly transgender athlete so that young trans people can see a future for themselves in sports.
OLAE: Is there any additional words or message you would like to share with our readers?
CM: Trans people do not have to give up participating in the sports they love in order to be themselves.
I want to show people it is possible to be a transgender athlete and succeed in your sport. The more I push the boundaries and create safer spaces in athletics, the easier it will be for the young trans people who come after me. That’s what keeps me motivated.
OLAE: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak with us, Chris.
CM: Thanks for reaching out, and for the work you do to share LGBT stories and promote visibility.