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Days after breaking a Big Ten record, this LGBT athlete was harassed in a restroom

College Sports Roundup: G Ryan broke a swimming record then broke a barrier.

G Ryan broke a school and conference record in the 500-yard free for the Michigan women’s swim team.
University of Michigan Photography

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — G Ryan set a University of Michigan and Big Ten Conference record in women’s swimming on Dec. 2.

Two days later at the Atlanta airport on the way home from the meet, a woman tried telling Ryan to leave the women’s restroom and go to the men’s restroom instead.

“I don’t have a good defense,” Ryan said in a phone interview. “I can’t say that I’m a woman, so I belong here. That’s not true.”

What made a retort complicated is that Ryan doesn’t identify as male or female. The bathroom Ryan chooses to use in public depends on what’s likely to cause the least problems based on Ryan’s appearance, circumstances, and attire that day. Ryan identifies as queer in terms of gender and sexuality, and Ryan’s preferred pronouns are they/them/theirs.

So in the pink-tiled bathroom in Atlanta, Ryan’s response that Sunday night after claiming a piece of Big Ten history less than 60 hours earlier was to say, “I understand that this is a women’s restroom, and it’s OK for me to be here.”

That restroom incident marked a low point in an otherwise exciting weekend at the University of Georgia Fall Invitational, which started for Ryan with the 500-yard freestyle.

“That race kind of came out of nowhere, to be honest, at least from my perspective,” Ryan said. “I was focusing on the details and trying to be consistent in my splits, and I was as shocked as anyone at the end.”

Ryan completed the race in 4 minutes, 34.28 seconds. Ryan immediately knew that went below the A-cut time needed to qualify for the NCAA championships in March. Michigan’s coaches later told Ryan about breaking the school and conference records in the event.

“[The Big Ten record] wasn’t a goal I had even envisioned or conceptualized,” said Ryan, who finished ninth in both the 500 and 1,650 freestyles at last year’s NCAA championships. “It’s a great honor.”

Ryan, a junior, previously held the school record in the 500 freestyle until teammate Rose Bi took the record last season.

As the anchor leg on Michigan’s 800-yard freestyle relay, Ryan earned another NCAA championships berth by the relay getting an A-cut time of 6:59.49. In other events from Dec. 2-4 at Georgia, Ryan took second in the 1,650 freestyle (15:57.10), finished eighth in the 200 freestyle (1:46.49), and contributed to the 400 freestyle relay taking eighth.

This swimming season is Ryan’s first season using the name G. Last season, Ryan’s first name from birth appeared in meet results. For academic purposes, Ryan changed to go by G after the 2015 fall semester, but Ryan didn’t take the steps to change the name used for athletics until April.

“The best thing for me is that nobody [within swimming] bats an eye at calling me G,” Ryan said. “There are times when I still get called by my legal name, and I know that it’s not intentional. But sometimes it’s jarring because I don’t think of myself that way.

“There are also times when our team is called a women’s team or we’re referred to as women or ladies. That’s also a challenge because I have to qualify those statements. I have to change the vocabulary in my own head so that I’m included in the conversation.”

Seeking inclusion provides Ryan motivation for talking about being genderqueer. But if a self-appointed women’s bathroom monitor is exclusionary again, Ryan laughed at the possibility of now saying, “It’s OK for me to be here. I own a Big Ten women’s swimming record.”

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT.

Division I

Nicholle Aston (senior, Cornell women’s basketball) helped the Big Red (5-3 overall) go 1-1 the last two weeks. She started both games and averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two games.

Chase Boyle (senior, Mount St. Mary’s men’s track and field) took second in the weight throw (57 feet, 10 1/4 inches) and ninth in the shot put (43-5 1/4) at the Navy Invitational on Dec. 3.

Tim Cox (senior, Yale men’s track and field) did not compete at the Yale Season Opener on Saturday. The team decided to rest its veteran distance runners.

Kyle Decker (sophomore, DePaul men’s track and field) ran two events at the season-opening Blue & Gold Invitational at Notre Dame on Dec. 2. Decker took 16th in the 400 meters (52.52 seconds) and helped DePaul’s 4x400 relay finish sixth.

Connor Griffin (sophomore, Fordham men’s swimming) swam four events at the eight-team Bucknell Invitational on Dec. 2-4, and his best finish came by taking 20th in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:12.01). He followed that with a second in the 200 freestyle (1:49.73) and third in the 100 backstroke (56.93 seconds) on Dec. 7 in a dual meet with Manhattan.

Emmonnie Henderson (senior, Louisville women’s track and field) won the shot put (55-7 1/2) and took second in the weight throw (61-1) at the Vanderbilt Indoor Open on Dec. 3. At the Hoosier Open on Friday, she won the shot put (56-4).

Nick Jessee (senior, St. Louis men’s swimming) swam three events at the U.S. Winter National Championships — the 4x50, 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle relays. His relay took fifth in the 4x200, sixth in the 4x100 and ninth in the 4x50.

Ayrton Kasemets (junior, Oakland men’s swimming) finished 12th in the 400 individual medley (4:14.69), 15th in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:09.89), 18th in the 100 breaststroke (58.25 seconds), and 35th in the 200 IM (2:02.33) from Dec. 2-4 at the eight-team Zippy Invite in Akron, Ohio. Oakland’s men took second as a team.

Cavender Salvadori (redshirt junior, William & Mary men’s track and field) did not compete — W&M sent only one distance runner — at the CNU Holiday Open on Dec. 4.

Steven Stumph (senior, Southern California men’s swimming) swam five events at the Texas Invitational from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. He snared 11th in the 200 breaststroke (1:58.93), took 14th in the 100 breaststroke (55.61 seconds), finished 39th in the 200 individual medley (1:51.29), helped the 200 medley relay take ninth (1:28.69), and contributed to the 400 medley relay finishing 11th (3:13.79).

Jaron Thomas (senior, Colorado men’s track and field) took second in the 55-meter hurdles (7.34 seconds) at Wyoming on Friday. The time tied for the fourth fastest in Buffaloes history.

Wayne Zhang (junior, Yale men’s diving) finished fourth on 3-meter springboard (260.65) and fifth on 1-meter (225.7) during a three-team meet at UConn on Dec. 3.

Jamie Bissett (assistant coach, Michigan men’s and women’s diving) helped guide three divers to top-five finishes at the Georgia Invitational on Dec. 2-4 with Alessandra Murphy’s third place on platform the best finish of the weekend.

Chris Burns (assistant coach, Bryant men’s basketball) witnessed the Bulldogs (3-8 overall) go 1-4 the last two weeks with the win coming Nov. 30 against Yale, 79-70.

Lee-J Mirasolo (assistant coach, Harvard women’s hockey) saw the Crimson (1-9-1 overall) go 0-1-1 the last two weeks. Harvard tied No. 7 Colgate 3-3 on Dec. 3 by scoring three third-period goals.

Stephanie White (head coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) guided the Commodores (9-1 overall) to a 4-0 record the last two weeks. The closest of the four contests was an 80-72 win at East Tennessee State on Dec. 8. Her team’s game against Memphis on Dec. 28 is scheduled to be televised at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU, and its Jan. 2 game at Texas A&M is set to be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

Division II

Austin Shupp (junior, Shippensburg men’s track and field) ran the best time (8.3 seconds) during the 60-meter hurdle prelim races, but he fell and received a DNF in the final at Bucknell’s Bison Opener on Dec. 3. Shupp also helped the 4x400-meter relay win (3:24.39) and took third in the triple jump (45 feet, 2 1/4 inches). It was Shupp’s first competition since February, when he tore two ligaments in his ankle.

Division III

Greg Arther (junior, Wisconsin-Platteville men’s track and field) said he has decided to return to Platteville and rejoin the track team. He last competed during the 2015-16 indoor track season. He attended Wisconsin-Parkside during the 2016 fall semester.

Chris Cassingham (junior, Mary Washington men’s swimming) competed in six events at the six-team Gettysburg Invitational on Dec. 3. His best individual finish was 11th in the 500-yard freestyle (4:56.09), and he helped the 800 freestyle relay take fourth place. Mary Washington won the men’s team title.

Alec Donovan (sophomore, Centenary wrestling) captured an 8-1 decision at 157 pounds against Hunter’s William Heine in a dual meet Dec. 2. He finished second at 157 pounds Dec. 4 in the Bob Quade Cyclone Open, where Donovan lost his first match and worked his way back through the bracket.

Zach Greenawalt (freshman, Juniata men’s track and field) took 10th in pole vault by clearing 11 feet, 11 3/4 inches Dec. 3 at the River Hawks Opener.

Jason Hadley (sophomore, Mount Union men’s track and field) and Josh Thorne (sophomore, Mount Union men’s track and field) did not compete at the Toy Drive Invite on Dec. 3 because the distance runners are recovering from cross country season.

Julie Shaw (head coach, La Verne women’s basketball) saw the Leopards (0-7 overall) go 0-4 the last two weeks, and Saturday’s 71-65 loss at La Sierra was the closest of the four contests.

NAIA

David Gilbert (senior, Lewis-Clark men’s track and field) rested as the team’s cross country runners did not compete in Saturday’s Jacksons Open.

Jack Strickland (senior, Friends men’s track and field) took eighth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.65 seconds) and 13th in the 300 meters (37.76 seconds) to open his season at the Crimson & Gold Classic in Pittsburgh, Kansas, on Saturday.

Community College

Maria Berrum (sophomore, Oakton women’s basketball) saw the Owls (2-9 overall) win their two most recent games to go 2-2 the last two weeks. Berrum did not play in the three games that box scores were available.

Taylor Emery (sophomore, Gulf Coast State women’s basketball) helped the Commodores (12-0 overall) go 3-0 the last two weeks. She scored 23 points both against Eastern Florida State (Dec. 3) and Alabama Southern (Dec. 8), and she scored 12 points in the third game against St. Petersburg (Dec. 2). Her season average is a team-high 15.9 points per game.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.