Being Out is a feature that looks at LGBTQ people in sports who have come out since Outsports first published in 1999. Today: Basketball coach Layne Ingram.
Every trans person has their own journey, but for Layne Ingram, his athletic success on his high school girls basketball team and the University of Michigan women’s team made his coming out much more public.
“How do I respond to the lady in the mall from the church I grew up in?” Ingram asks on his blog, TheRightLayne. It was one of the many dilemma’s he wrestled with after he came out publicly in 2017.
Ingram was smart in allowing a local Lansing, Mich., reporter to write about his journey and he said it made it easier not to have to explain his story to everyone he met. One example was at his 20th high school reunion.
People that I recognized but didn’t remember told me they read my story and thought it was great. They had conversations with me; told me about their lives and children. You know human stuff. It was AMAZING. I felt fine; accepted, maybe even loved. By the end of the picnic, after the police had come and killed a rabid raccoon, I was on a high and ready for the night.
Ingram, the head women’s basketball coach at Lansing Community College, is dedicated to using his public platform to educate people about issues facing the trans community. His blog is a great primer for anyone wondering what trans people go through on a daily basis.
Here are Ingram’s answers to our six Being Out questions:
What do you love the most about basketball?
The things I love most about basketball are the life lessons learned and relationships built. As an adult looking back, I can see that basketball, in effect, saved my life. It taught me how to work hard, how to be a good teammate, how to fail and succeed and gave me relationships and experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. It allowed me a place to be exactly who and how I was. It was a place to channel pain, frustration and excitement. It was a safe place to just be.
What does it personally mean to you to be LGBTQ+ in sports?
It means a lot. Especially when our society is doing all that it can to erase the existence and decrease the credibility of the LGBTQ+ community. I want to stand up and stand out and show our kids that they are not alone, that they matter, that they will be OK. They can achieve any and every thing they want to.
I hope that my story inspires people to be exactly who they are and to be proud of it because no one can do it like them. There are too many kids taking their own lives, too many families not being accepting and too many people scared to be who they are.
I want people to know that I am here for them and they are loved. That’s what it means to me.
What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ kids in athletics or who want to participate in athletics, the kind of advice the younger you wish you had heard?
This is a tough question to answer because I lived for 36 years of my life in the gender I was born into. I played basketball as a girl and woman. I didn’t know then what young people know now. I think if you want to play a sport then fight for it.
Find places that accept you while we continue to work on making sure that all sports in all places are inclusive to all people. Basketball players are just basketball players to me; we all have to put the ball in the basket. If you can do that, then work every day to be the best player you can be and it will happen.
Who is someone that inspires you?
Right now, the youth of America are inspiring me because I believe that they are going to save us. The millennials and younger generations are incredibly smart and unafraid of saying what they think and believe. This generation understands that we are all created equal and that equality for all does not mean oppression for others.
What are you passionate/excited about right now?
I’m super into advocating for trans youth and my blog, https://therightlayne.blog. I have been getting out to speak and hold workshops to let kids know that they aren’t alone. To answer questions about what it’s like to come out to family and at work.
It makes me happy to be able to have the chance to talk with them and show them that things will work out and that they are OK!
I’m loving my blog because it’s a safe space for me to share my story and experiences and give advice and encouragement to those who need it.
What is your most memorable sports moment?
My most memorable moment in sports is probably still my second half performance in the NCAA tournament my junior year against Virginia where I went in at halftime with 0 points and scored 27 in the second half. It was fun — the glory days.
Layne Ingram is a former collegiate and professional basketball player and current head women’s basketball coach at Lansing Community College in Michigan. He is a fierce LGBTQ+ advocate and out trans man. He can be reached at email@example.com or @the_right_layne on Twitter.
If you are out in sports in any capacity as openly LGBTQ and want to be featured in Being Out, drop Jim an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).