Editor’s Note: Since coming out as trans and nonbinary in 2020, Layshia Clarendon has stated that they use he/him/she/her/they/them pronouns interchangeably in self-references.
Whether hitting the big shot, opening the conversation in sports by affirming themselves in every facet, or building their own foundation dedicated to a critical community need, Los Angeles Sparks guard Layshia Clarendon doesn’t shy away from the moment. They boldly step into the moment and make the difference.
Now as they seek a return to the WNBA — Clarendon did not play in 2022 after being unclaimed by a team — they are balancing important work both on and off the court.
The Sparks signed them to a training camp contract on February 7 and Clarendon aims to earn a spot on the Sparks roster.
“In the WNBA you’re always fighting for a job,” they said. “Competition makes us all better so I’m looking forward to it.
Clarendon’s last stint in the league was with the Minnesota Lynx in 2021. Despite averaging 10.4 points and 5.7 assists per game in 20 start with the Lynx, Clarendon was released before the start of the 2022 season.
They are also hard at work building the Layshia Clarendon Foundation, an effort they started in May 2022 to deal with one of biggest barriers for many trans people: health care.
“The purpose of my foundation is to give access to life-affirming health care to trans people. That story is my story” they stated to Outsports. “Only 4 cents of every $100 raised for the LGBTQ community goes towards trans people. I wanted to be a part of changing those resources.”
This balance of work by Clarendon is a centerpiece of a profile on the WNBA player as part of the second season of GLAAD’s “Changemakers” documentary series. The four-part program spotlights leaders of Black transgender and nonbinary-owned business and efforts that foster needed change and community uplift.
The short film, which debuted across social media and GLAAD’s YouTube channel Monday highlights their story to finding themselves on and off the basketball floor to being the WNBA’s first out trans and nonbinary player.
The film is driven by Clarendon’s own words from a first-person perspective. It delves into their backstory, their faith, the 2020 decision to come out and on affirming surgery the following year, and setting up the foundation dedicated to helping other trans people.
“I have felt like I have been in the wilderness and there’s no path,” they state in the film about their journey. “It’s like me with a machete chopping down branches trying to build this path without footsteps before me, or maybe there is footsteps but not enough for me to walk through unscathed freely.”