An interview with Chris Mosier, a transgender triathlete and advocate
Posted March 9, 2015
OutCaster Travis and Chris Mosier in the OutCasting studio
Part 1 of 4
Part 2 of 4
Part 3 of 4
Part 4 of 4
By OutCasting youth participant Sam
In this four part series, Chris Mosier, a transgender athlete, opens up about his experience transitioning and competing as a trans guy. Chris spoke with OutCaster Travis, a founding member of the OutCasting youth team. This was Travis's last OutCasting interview before he left for college.
The “T” in LGBTQ, “transgender,” refers to a person whose gender (the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity) does not match his or her sex (a classification based on reproductive organs). “Cisgender” is a term for someone who is not transgender; that is, their gender matches their sex. Transgender people often undergo sex confirming surgery and/or medical procedures like hormone therapy so that they can better resemble their gender. People who undergo these changes, sometimes called “female-to-male” or “male-to-female,” can be met with fear, discrimination and lack of acceptance. For trans athletes, this physical change can be especially difficult.
Transgender people face challenges similar to those faced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. But transgender people in sports face a unique challenge. “Transgender athletes don’t just worry about if they will be accepted by teammates and coaches. They have to worry about whether or not they’ll even be allowed to participate in the sports they love,” explained transgender athlete Chris Mosier to The Advocate for their “40 Under 40” series in 2014.
The idea that a transgender female athlete has an unfair advantage in competition has hurt transgender female athletes. The United States Tennis Association did not permit tennis player Renée Richards from playing as a woman in the 1976 United States Open. Golfer Lana Lawless, who had gender confirming surgery in 2005, sued the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 2010. She claimed that the league’s “female at birth” rule violated California civil rights law. Michelle Dumaresq left downhill mountain biking racing after her fellow racers protested her competing.
Transgender male athletes like Chris have not experienced the same legal difficulties, perhaps because of the conception that “female-to-male” athletes are actually “playing up” and thus are at a disadvantage, if anything. But this does not mean that “female-to-male” athletes have no difficulties competing.
“Oddly enough, the worst behavior in terms of teasing, taunting and threats is against female-to-male athletes. There is the belief that even with testosterone, a woman can’t be as competitive as a man,” said Helen Carroll, sports project director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, according to a report by The New York Times.
In this four-part series, we talk to Chris Mosier, a transgender advocate, educator, coach, and three-time Ironman triathlete. He is the founder of transathlete.com – a resource for athletes, coaches, and administrators to find information on trans inclusive sports policies. In Part 1, Chris shares his experience as a trans guy in endurance sports. In Part 2, he discusses his goal to be a role model for young trans athletes. In Part 3, he relates his complicated feelings about his identity as a trans guy versus his identity as a guy. And in Part 4, he talks being on the board of Go! Athletes, a national network of current and former LGBT student-athletes.
Chris was featured in Just Gender, a film about alternative gender identity and gender expression and a passionate cry for social justice for those whose lives are so affected by this long-misunderstood condition. The film was created by filmmaker George Zuber, a retired partner at the accounting firm Deloitte and a former board member of Lambda Legal. You can request a local screening of Just Gender or purchase a download for personal use here. You can buy Just Gender for educational or corporate use from KinoLorberEDU.
Audio excerpts from Just Gender are included in these OutCasting episodes by permission of George Zuber and by Jeff Tamblyn at KinoLorberEDU.
This episode was produced by youth participants Nicole S., Nicole K., Josh, David, Travis, Andrew, Michael, Jamie, Keren, Joe, Sydney, and Sam, with OutCasting's Executive Producer, Marc Sophos.