Ness Murby, a Paralympian competing for Canada, has come out publicly on the latest episode of the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast.
“I’m genderqueer, transmasculine, and my pronouns are he/him and they/them,” Murby says in the podcast, which you can hear by clicking here. “It is an honor to say that out loud.”
Murby has never spoken publicly about being LGBTQ, though careful observers may have noticed his profile on the Canadian Paralympic team website mentions his “wife,” which virtually any way you look at it made him part of the community.
Murby was born with limited eyesight and is today blind, competing in the F11 category that includes athletes who “have a very low visual acuity and/or no light perception.”
The Paralympian, who has competed nationally and internationally for three different countries — Australia, Japan and Canada — in three different sports — goalball, powerlifting and Para athletics — said he has been eyeing 2020 for a while as the year to talk more openly about his true self. For him, coming out this year is “meeting the moment” of our time and using his platform to “pay it forward” while acknowledging all of the people who came out before him.
Still, Murby is in a rare group. To Outsports’ knowledge, no publicly out trans person has competed in a Paralympic Games or Olympic Games. Murby says he has already qualified for the Paralympics next year in discus, and if the Games take place he is likely to be the first publicly out trans athlete ever in the Paralympics. Italian sprinter Valentina Petrillo also has a shot.
Even in retirement, very few former Paralympic or Olympic athletes have come out publicly as trans, with Caitlin Jenner being the most well-known.
Murby finished sixth in the discus throw F11 at the 2016 Paralympics. He won a silver medal at the 2015 World Championships in javelin, and a bronze in 2017. Javelin is not an event in the Paralympics.
On the podcast, Murby talks about issues he has with the current binary system of sports based on gender. His concerns arise from competing now as a man in a category called “women” and watching the attacks on Caster Semenya, the Olympic gold medalist who is being banned from defending her 800-meter title due seemingly to naturally elevated testosterone levels.
Murby also talks about how he believes his disability often overshadows his LGBTQ identity in people’s minds. While this is the first time he has talked publicly about being trans, his wife has been part of his competing for years as his aide. Murby says some people can’t grasp the concept of a blind person being LGBTQ, particularly trans.
He hopes sharing his story of being trans and having a disability will further conversations about the trans community and build acceptance.
“Everyone should feel like there is space for them in this world,” Murby says. “You are enough, we are enough, there is enough space for all of us.”
You can listen to the conversation with Paralympian Ness Murby on the Megaphone player, or by visiting Spotify for an easy browser player. Five Rings To Rule Them All is also available on Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts and many more platforms. Just search for Outsports wherever you get your podcast.
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