Brent Darah, 20, is a transgender runner who was on the men's cross country team at Bowling Green University this past season. His coach, Lou Snelling, said something so simple that at the same time is powerful, because it showed the total acceptance Brent got from his team: "For me, Brent is Brent. He's just another dude," said Snelling.
Brent is the subject of a great video piece by WTOL in Toledo. It tells of his journey of struggle (which included thoughts of suicide) and self-acceptance to the much better place he is in at Bowling Green. He was recruited out of high school for the women's team and became one of the team's top runners. But he never felt something was off and had his first conversation with Snelling in 2014.
"Before I even sat down in the chair and started talking to him, I already had tears streaming out of my eyes," said Brent. "I just told him, ‘Coach, I want to kill myself, like, I need help. I'm having all these problems, and I don't know what to do about it.' "
Shortly after that first conversation, in March of 2014, Brent told his coach that he was transgender. He was born a female, but in his heart, knew he was a male.
As a freshman on the women's team, Brent quickly became one of the top runners in the program. But when he made the decision to transition, he began taking testosterone and could no longer compete on the women's team.
When asked how his teammates took the news, Brent said, "They were incredibly supportive. I would say they are all like sisters to me, definitely."
When Brent joined the men's team with Snelling's wholehearted support, the reception from the other runners was better than he could have expected. "You're like a brother to us," Brent said they told him. Brent is no longer running with the team but that doesn't make his story any less compelling.
Brent has been documenting his transition on YouTube for more than a year and I know his story will make a difference for other trans people who are struggling or feel alone. Hats off also to WTOL and reporter Jordan Strack, who told Brent's story with compassion and insight. The seven-minute video is well worth your time.