Transgender triathlete Chris Mosier talks about his transition from competing against female athletes to now competing against men. He is vying for a national sponsorship to raise awareness of trans athletes.
By Chris Mosier
Editor's Note: In Chris' first race of the 2011, he finished 10th in his 30-34 age bracket. The TRX competition Chris is vying for depends on YouTube views. Please view his YouTube video here.
When I began to consider transitioning, I knew my athletic life would change. It was a decision that I put a lot of thought into, and one that held up my process for a significant amount of time. I’ve always been an athlete. I love training, working toward a goal, competing, and sharing the experience of team sports with other athletes. I knew that choosing to be open about my gender identity would require me to negotiate my identity as an athlete – it would change my category of competition, change the way people interacted with me, and change my results at races.
But I am proud that I can finally say it: I’m a middle-of-the-pack guy.
Okay, a top-third-of-the-pack guy, but I’m not what I used to be.
I used to be a top-10 girl: strong, fast, and dominant. I was a team leader and MVP in most of my high school seasons playing volleyball, basketball and softball. As a masculine high school student, I played well enough that players on other teams would ask if I was a guy (which I took to be a compliment in many ways – and looking back, I’m a bit disappointed that they all knew before I did!). After college, when I began running, I was finishing many of my races in the top 10 percent. I won my first triathlon, which basically hooked me into the sport, and two years after my obsession with swimming, biking, and running began, I’m proud to say I have finished an Ironman. Even with that accomplishment, I never felt comfortable sharing the results of my races because my category of competition didn’t fit my identity. So now, I’m a middle of the pack dude.
My times are about the same, but competing in the male category puts me at a disadvantage against cisgendered men who had a lifetime of hormonal influence to their body and muscle-structure development. Triathlon is an individual sport, but competitors are ranked against others in the athlete’s gender category and age group. Becoming the person I know I am and continuing to be a competitive triathlete, runne, and cyclist were both important, but it was difficult to manage both. In the end, the decision was clear: I would rather be comfortable with myself in the hours that I am not competing than to be uncomfortable in my own skin and be doing well athletically.
I made the right decision for me.
As a trans guy, I find myself working harder than ever to compete against my new competition. My times are improving, and my desire to compete is stronger than ever now that I am comfortable with myself. And while I am fiercely competitive, regardless of my results, I am pleased that I am now comfortable before and after races, and not just in the middle when I’m cycling too fast to really be seen.
For some transgender people, transition means giving up participation in sports. Being an athlete is an important part of my identity, and one that I am not willing to let go. My goal for this year is to qualify for Race Across America, a cross-country cycling race that goes from California to Maryland in 11 days or less. I am currently sponsored by Odwalla and am up for sponsorship with TRX. Sponsorship provides assistance with my training and racing, but it also provides me with a platform to be a good role model and advocate for transgender folks in sports.
It took me a long time to get comfortable with being a middle-of-the-pack guy. Looking at the bigger picture, being trans and being an athlete are only two parts of my identity, but two important parts. I am many things – the most important of those things is that I am happy.
My TRX sponsorship video talks about some of the things I do and who I am. Please watch this 30-second video; the sponsorship contest is based on number of views of my video, so please repost it and spread the word. And if anyone is interested in sponsoring a transguy athlete, please contact me!