When he steps up to the starting blocks this fall, Schuyler Bailar, a Harvard freshman, will be a member of the men's swimming team as a trans male, part of his journey of self-acceptance.
So if you've been following me on social media over the past year, I'm sure you've noticed changes in my appearance, my clothes, my gender expression. I am no longer girly or feminine; my chest is flat; I wear ties instead of dresses. This post is to affirm your suspicions: I am transgender.
For those unfamiliar with this term, it means that the gender in my mind does not match my body's biological sex. I was born female, and I identify as male. I have medically begun my transition to male. If you have questions as to what that means, please ask me. I would much rather you ask than let your concerns and questions linger in your head. But I am an open book, not a punching bag. Please don't be mean or hateful. If you don't understand, ask. If you don't agree with my decisions, please at least respect me. I am still a person.
And I assure you I'm still the same goofy, nerdy, crazy Schuyler that you've known. I'm not changing who I am, I'm not changing my personality. I am only changing my body so it matches my insides and my feelings. And lastly, in terms of swimming: I will be swimming for Harvard men's swim team in the fall instead of the women's team. Harvard swimming as a whole has been incredible in this process, providing me with the amazing opportunity to be me and continue my transition.
Please refer to me with he/him/his pronouns. I understand this will take time to adjust -- I don't offend easily, as long as you are trying. If you would like to see more of my journey and transition, contact me and, like I said, I'm definitely willing to talk and explain.
Also, I have been working on coming out to people individually but it's been an overwhelming and slow process. At this point, I am tired of hiding and worrying that people will find out. Hence this PSA. So please don't feel lesser or left out if I haven't told you before now. Like I said, I'm still Schuyler.
Thank all of you who already support and love me unconditionally. A special shout-out to Harvard swimming, my parents, my brother, and my best friend who have saved my life repeatedly -- by loving me and in turn, showing me how I can love myself. I wouldn't be hear writing this today if it weren't for all of them. Thank you for taking time from your day to read this. Have a great day:-)
Bravo and beautifully said. While now open, Bailar still has his struggles as the Swimming World article points out:
Steps in his transition from female to male include top surgery to remove his breasts as well as starting testosterone. In fact, Bailar's self-determined MO is visibility in his journey to a legitimate self identity.
Sadly, swimming has been a huge barrier in Bailar's struggle to accept his own identity. This spring, he had to make the agonizing decision between being a potential record breaker on the Harvard women's team (which he was initially recruited for) or being on the men's team. Bailar ultimately realized that no first place at Ivy's or record-breaking swim could be more important than being himself.
Even after making such a huge decision, being himself in the pool is still difficult for Bailar. It's not that his teammates don't accept him as a male, but he still struggles with his body image in the water and being comfortable wearing a men's suit. After his top surgery, Bailar's upper body looks like any guy's—albeit with permanent scars. But, in his head, Bailar obsesses over the lingering femininity of his hips.
Harvard men's swim coach Kevin Tyrell has fully embraced Bailar joining his team. "I want Schuyler on my team for the same reasons I want all of my athletes. I believe he wants to push himself academically and athletically. When all of our swimmers and divers have this mindset everyone improves daily in every aspect of their lives. This process will contribute to them being outstanding members of society."
Bailar is documenting his journey on Instagram and even having some fun with it. He sounds like a remarkable young man and Outsports will be rooting for him this fall.