Monique Matthews will be competing in her third Paralympic Games in sitting volleyball in Tokyo, hoping to add to the gold and silver she’s already won for Team USA. Her team went on to earn a “Best Paralympic Team” award for the United States after the 2016 Paralympics.
Not long before heading to those 2016 Rio Paralympics, Matthews had just gotten married. She made it onto our list of out Paralympians in Rio, having married the person many of us believed to be her new wife.
Yet Matthews’ bio has since changed, now reflecting that she in fact married her husband, Landon, five years ago.
That’s because Landon has, since their wedding, transitioned.
Living in Oklahoma as an LGBTQ couple
Living in Choctaw, Okla., a city of about 12,000, the couple has largely gone unrecognized in the community, just “blending in,” as Matthews told Outsports. Matthews said most people in the community don’t recognize her through her Paralympic success.
Yet there has been some struggle with people closest to them.
“Landon’s been through a lot because his family’s not supportive,” Matthews said. “They still call him by his former name and uses ‘she’ pronouns. When he did get [gender-affirming] surgery, only his grandmother reached out to make sure everything was OK. So it’s been a struggle with his part of the family.”
Matthews said she has found support from her Team USA sitting volleyball teammates.
“When my husband transitioned all of my teammates were good about using the proper pronouns and the correct name. There were some slip-ups at first, but now he’s just Landon. My team does really good with it.”
Finding sitting volleyball
Matthews had been an all-state athlete in high school softball, and she had played high school basketball and she ran track. She was athletic by nature. So when she saw a brochure for sitting volleyball after losing her foot in a warehouse accident during a summer job with Circuit City, she thought it might be just what she needed.
She quickly took to it, and within a very short period of time she had earned a spot on Team USA and won a Paralympic medal.
“I never played volleyball but I think my athletic ability let me adapt to it pretty quickly.”
Matthews does find one bit misconception about her sport.
“We sit on the ground, not wheelchairs. It’s actually harder than standing volleyball beacus you have to move with your hands and pass and hit with your hands.”
Hoping for financial support
Like so many Paralympians, Matthews gets very little financial support from her participation in international athletics. Between her training for competition, Matthews drives deliveries for DoorDash to make ends meet.
It gives her the flexibility to work around her training schedule.
Now trying to stay afloat and cover the expenses of Landon’s transition, they are hoping for some help from the generosity of fans of Team USA, the Paralympics and sitting volleyball.
If you are able to donate anything to this Paralympian and her husband on his transition journey, you can help them through their GoFundMe page.
You can follow Monique Matthews on Instagram.