Madison Hall, a doctoral candidate at Michigan State University, is opening some eyes and blazing a trail in the sport of competitive shooting. As a member of the MSU Shooting Sports Club, Hall has helped the team to some success it hasn’t seen in recent years. Individually, Hall competed late last year in the 2016 Winter Airgun championships, hosted by USA Shooting.

Hall is also transgender and identifies as two-spirit, common to the indigenous people of North America. Hall said they prefer gender-non-specific pronouns.

They are now talking publicly about their identity in hopes of building understanding and serving as a role model for youth.

“While my academic goal is to complete my Ph.D. in the coming year,” Hall told Outsports, “my competitive shooting goals remain fixed on Regional, National and International Air Pistol Shooting events, and I hope to be a role model to younger students, scientists and athletes who are trying to find their way with intelligence, compassion, strength and dignity.”

For various reasons, Hall is not currently planning to transition hormonally. Hall can continue to compete in the women’s division uninterrupted. Hall said they are currently nationally ranked No. 11 in women’s air pistol by USA Shooting.

“As a competitor in Women’s Air Pistol, I am not planning to undertake a hormonal gender transition at this time,” Hall said. “For me, being naturally masculine-looking is an advantage because I feel like my presentation already reflects how I identify. And the Two-Spirit aspect gives me reverence and strength as a balance of two gender identities in one mind and body.”

They said they have received a high level of support from in and outside of their sport and the Michigan State community, both before and after other short stories about them ran earlier this week.

“I've been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support, acceptance and respect I have received at all levels of shooting competition,” Hall said. “MSU's Demmer Center Director Michael Galella, coaches and teammates have all made me feel embraced and supported, in addition to my very positive experiences at the Olympic Training Center during the Winter Air Gun Championships last December.

“Clearly a shared passion for sport surpasses many interpersonal hurdles and often brings out our best, no matter our role in the competitive process.”

Hall, who would love to compete in the Olympics, will continue to pursue their studies even as they focus on some next big steps in their competitive career.

You can find Madison Hall on Facebook. They can also be reached via email at [email protected].