Sport must be accessible, safe and attractive for all young people, regardless of their body, sexuality and gender.
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In the meantime, I am 27 years old and since mid-March I have been telling my loved ones and the outside world that I fall in love with men and not women. Quite a step, which was accompanied by doubts and a little fear. After my first conversations with the team and my loved ones, it turned out that this was unnecessary. For people who experience the same fear as I do, I would like to tell my story.
At the age of 18, so when I was doing skeleton for nearly five years, I came out as gay. Because being true to myself, instead of hiding or changing who I am, improved my sport performance. It gives me a sense of freedom that lifts me up and gives me wings. Hiding your true colours takes a lot of energy and I decided to use my energy for my sport instead.
Over the almost four years that I’ve been out in ultimate there has been a steadily increasing number of out trans and non-binary players, including several that have specifically reached out to me to say how I’ve helped lead the way. This is the power of representation. This is the power of out, vocal, and visible LGBTQ+ athletes. Those who have taken the steps before can help lead the way for those who come after.
I definitely felt that I had to hide parts of myself as a young person. However, college allowed me to spread my wings and be more open. My college volleyball teammates were fantastic and were a huge part of helping me find myself. They are my second family. I have been blessed to coach in some very accepting communities and universities.
Without a role model to follow, multiple world champion bouldering Alex Johnson maintained her secrecy. She remembers feeling like, “I have no one to talk to, nobody knows who I am, I hate myself, why can’t I be normal?” It wouldn’t be until Johnson started her relationship with Bree Robles that her confidence began to build…
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Practicing sports should be empowering, strengthening, inclusive. It shouldn’t be such a fight for anyone to take even the first steps into any type of sport. If you want to keep sports fair and honest, like so many anti-trans voices out there claim, you welcome trans and intersex people – both in amateur and elite sports. Banning someone from participation is as far removed from the olympic mindset as can be.
One day after Trans Day of Visibility, Els Van Doesburg, alderman of N-VA and new columnist of De Morgen, decides to open an attack on trans athletes. Her starting point? Reducing trans women to mediocre men’s bodies who will walk away with medals in women’s competitions. A bad 1 April joke that calls for a basic lesson in gender and sport.
We are on the verge of a wonderful sports summer with the Olympic Games, the European Football Championship and many other events. Athletes of whom we are proud are working their butts off. We support them, we look up to them, and yet many of them cannot be fully themselves.