Monday’s episode of the NBC sports competition show “The Titan Games”, produced by professional wrestling megastar and box office draw Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, featured another group of athletes making a climb towards a duel with a Pro Titan in the final round “Mt. Olympus.” One of the competitors made some history, too, as the first out transgender competitor to take their marks on a show of this type.
Mitch Harrison, a 32-year-old personal trainer and security guard from Alaska, took the challenge. “This was out of nowhere, out of the blue and this is exciting,” Harrison said. “Who wouldn’t want to be on one of Dwayne Johnson’s shows, and being able to compete and compete for the first time as Mitch. It all fell into place perfectly.”
Here’s the first round of competition facing Exodus Rogers Monday night:
It isn’t his first time standing on a big stage as an athlete. Harrison was a three-year basketball reserve at Stanford as part of three NCAA Final Four teams. He transferred to Utah in his final year of eligibility in 2010-2011, and paced them to a Mountain West Conference tournament title and an NCAA berth. He says the pressure of those moments translates well to the competition show.
“You have that clash of your friends and family supporting you and your opponents friends and family supporting him, it’s loud and it adds to that energy,” he noted. “It helped bring me back to those moments of feeling the pressure but rising up to the pressure. There was that laser focus even through the pressure.”
Harrison said he recognized what this could mean for trans athletes in a time where participation has become a hot-button issue. He started his transition in 2016, but continued to stay active. This marked his first competitive sports event since ending his pro basketball career abroad in 2013. He noted the atmosphere at The Titan Games has been largely supportive among producers and competitors and hoped to use that and a solid performance in the competition to spur positive dialogue.
“I’m hoping this is the door that I would love for this opportunity to open and helps open more up to this discussion and how can we allow more trans people to progress of sports,” Harrison asked. “I think it would be such honor to perhaps change somebody’s mind and now they are actually open to this discussion.”
Although he didn’t advance, Harrison was thrilled by the opportunity and the reception he received. He’ll talk more about the experience in this week’s episode of “The Trans Sporter Room” podcast.
Watch the elimination round below.