Lia Thomas made lots of headlines as she competed for the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming team, setting school and conference records in the pool and winning a national championship.
She is just one of the latest transgender athletes to compete for a college team while being out to teammates and coaches. Outsports knows of almost three dozen out trans athletes from college sports who have been out publicly while competing, all in the last decade.
Some of them are trans men, some are trans women. Some have competed on a men’s or nongendered team, though the majority have competed on a women’s team.
Outsports knows there are countless other trans athletes who have competed at the collegiate level who have not been publicly out or out to teammates. Fordham basketball player Bryson Cavanaugh decided to forgo his senior season and the WNBA Draft to come out as trans and begin his transition; Duke rower Liam Miranda waited until after competing to come out publicly.
Given transition requirements for many college athletes to compete as their gender, waiting to come out can be a matter of competing with their friends and teammates or not. For a full review of college trans-inclusion policies, visit transathlete.com.
Yet here are at least three dozen trans athletes who have been out while competing, each of whom has competed at the college level, whether it be NCAA, NAIA or community college.
Three trans athletes we know of — Lia Thomas (swimming), CeCé Telfer (track & field) and Braeden Abrahamsen (bowling) — won a national championship, with Telfer and Thomas winning individual titles. Several others have earned conference honors.
NCAA Division I
Basketball, George Washington University (DC)
Kye Allums was the first college basketball player to come out publicly as transgender, a trans man on the women’s basketball team in Division I in 2010. Allums came out before the NCAA had announced its trans-athlete policy.
Swimming, University of Michigan
G Ryan set Big Ten and University of Michigan records in the 500-yard freestyle for the Wolverines women’s swimming team, also earning NCAA Championship berths.
Cross-country and track & field, Georgia State
Jeffrey Rubel came out to his teammates on the women’s cross-country and track teams his senior season, to mixed reactions.
Swimming, Harvard University (Massachusetts)
Schuyler Bailar made big waves in the pool when he joined the men’s swimming team at Harvard. “I want Schuyler on my team for the same reasons I want all of my athletes,” said coach Kevin Tyrell at the time. “I believe he wants to push himself academically and athletically.”
Cross-country and track & field, University of Montana
Juniper Eastwood competed in long-distance running at the University of Montana, finishing 8th in the 2019 Big Sky cross-country conference championship. Eastwood has pointed out that her pre-transition times in high school would have made her a national champion in the women’s category. In 2020, Eastwood won the mile at the Big Sky Conference indoor track championships, making her the first trans student-athlete to win a conference title at the NCAA Division I level.
Cross-country, Bowling Green (Ohio)
An out trans man on the men’s cross-country team, Darah was embraced with his teams on the men’s team telling him, “You’re like a brother to us.”
Bowling, Vanderbilt University (Tennessee)
Braeden Abrahmsen transferred to Vanderbilt and transitioned, winning a national championship with the team in 2018. They were runner-up in 2019.
Swimming, University of Pennsylvania
After competing on the men’s swimming team for three seasons, Lia Thomas broke women’s swimming school and conference records while competing on the Quakers’ women’s swimming team for the 2021-2022 year, in addition to winning a 2022 NCAA Division I women’s swimming national championship and earning two other finishes in championship finals.
Swimming, Southern Illinois University
Natalie Fahey was a top-five competitor for the Salukis in multiple events. She earned a top-10 finish at the MAC Championships as a junior in 2018. Prior to the MAC Championships, Fahey had started hormone replacement therapy. The following season she joined the women’s team shortly after she reached the mandated year under NCAA regulation and swam in that’s year Missouri Valley Conference championships as an unscored exhibition swimmer.
Swimming, Yale (Connecticut)
The senior swimmer has been a contributor on the Yale women’s swimming team since he was a freshman. He opted to hold off on HRT until after his senior season, so he can compete with the women’s swimming team, in compliance with NCAA rules.
NCAA Division II
Track & field, Franklin Pierce University (New Hampshire)
CeCé Telfer competed on the men’s track & field team before transitioning and joining the women’s team, per NCAA regulations. She won the Division II National Championship in the 400-meter hurdles.
Fencing, Wayne State (Michigan)
Fischer competed on the women’s team before transitioning genders. He now competes on the men’s team.
NCAA Division III
Squash, Bowdoin College (Maine)
Horwitz played on the women’s squash team before moving to the men’s team and competing with them as well. They are a queer, non-binary transgender Jewish educator, consultant and public speaker.
Track & Field, Bates College (Maine)
Keeling Godsey was a stellar hammer thrower, narrowly missing out on a spot on Team USA for the 2012 Summer Olympics and earning a fifth-place finish at the PanAm Games in 2011.
Volleyball, Purchase College (New York)
In 2012, Edelmann was among the first NCAA student-athletes to compete under the Inclusion for Transgender Student-Athletes policy after two years on the women’s team that saw him lead the team in kills and digs in their freshman year. After a solid sophomore season, Edelmann began hormone replacement therapy and returned to play for the men’s side in time for the winter-spring season slate in 2012. Edelmann led the team in digs in his junior season and was named the team captain for his senior season in 2013.
Lacrosse, Endicott College (Massachusetts)
Socolow came out to his women’s lacrosse team while transitioning at Endicott College and found acceptance from teammates.
Swimming, Sarah Lawrence College (New York)
Jay Pulitano transitioned and competed on the men’s swimming team for Sarah Lawrence College. He may have been the first trans swimmer to compete in the NCAA.
Athena Del Rosario
Soccer, UC-Santa Cruz (California)
Athena Del Rosario was a goalie for the UC-Santa Cruz women’s soccer team for a couple of seasons before coming out publicly. Many people she had competed against had no idea she was trans.
Basketball, Hollins University (Virginia)
Max Nagle came out to teammates and identified as a man during his freshman year with the women’s basketball team. He continued playing for three seasons until he opted to take testosterone, which by NCAA rule made him ineligible to compete on the women’s team.
Rowing, Lewis and Clark College (Oregon)
Ryan Lavigne received an all-Northwest Conference honor by helping Lewis & Clark’s No. 1 varsity-eight boat finish second at the 2017 Northwest Conference Championships.
Tennis and Soccer, Northern Vermont University - Lyndon
Niemann came out as trans in high school and went on to play for both the men’s tennis and soccer teams in college. He was a finalist for the 2020 NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Recognition Awards.
Golf, Ithaca College
Alex competed on the women’s golf team at Ithaca, but when he decided to start taking hormones, he was no longer NCAA-eligible and his time competing on the women’s team ended.
Softball, University of Scranton (Pennsylvania)
E Kerr attempted to compete for a season on the school’s softball team, but decided he simply couldn’t reconcile his gender while competing on a team designed for women. He now participates as part of the team’s management.
Swimming, Nebraska Wesleyan University
Dani Wheeler competed on the women’s swimming team and is now a member of the men’s swimming team. At the 2022 Pioneer Classic Invite in Iowa, he competed in six events for the team.
Lacrosse & Field hockey, Sweet Briar College (Virginia)
The first publicly out trans woman to attend Sweet Briar, Erica Smith last year met NCAA Division III requirements to compete.
Swimming & Diving, Oberlin College (Ohio)
Lucas Draper is a diver for the men’s swimming and diving team.
Alexander Wicken is a member of the women’s fencing team at Brandeis and organized a campus conversation about trans inclusion in sports.
Wrestling, Life University (Georgia)
Mack Beggs went undefeated and won two state girls wrestling titles in Texas, before he went on to college at Life University and became part of the men’s wrestling team.
Equestrian, Savannah College of Art and Design (Georgia)
Jay Robinson competed on the nongendered equestrian team for SCAD, finding solace and acceptance in the barn.
Community College / Junior College
Basketball, Mission College (California)
Gabbi Ludwig was 6-foot-8 and 50 years old when she competed for the Mission College women’s basketball team, facing some vocal opposition associated with rival teams, featured eventually by HBO Sports.
Volleyball, City College of San Francisco (California)
Peachy Tabilos was “timid” when she first joined the men’s volleyball team at the City College of San Francisco, according to her coach. But she reportedly found acceptance from teammates.
Volleyball, Santa Ana College (California)
Chloe Anderson played for the Santa Ana College women’s volleyball team before transferring to UC-Santa Cruz.
Long Beach City College (California)
In high school in Tustin, Calif., she struggled to find her way onto the boys basketball team. Navi Huskey earned conference co-MVP honors her first year with the Long Beach City College women’s basketball team in 2019-2020. She returned to the team this season after the 2020-2021 was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. In 15 games played this far they average 13 points and 14 rebounds per game for a competitive LBCC squad.
Figure skating, University of California
While at Cal, Ray competed on the school’s figure skating team.
Rugby, Quinnipiac University (Connecticut)
Johnson came out publicly before his senior season, but he was already out to teammates. The team won multiple Division I championships in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association while Johnson played on the team.
Ice hockey, Macalaster College (Minnesota)
Avery Cordingley had just stepped into a captain role when they came out to teammates as trans, balancing a leadership role on the team at the same time they were navigating the early days of their transition.
If you are a trans athlete who competed in college sports while out, please do let us know via email at email@example.com, and we’ll be happy to add you to the post.