By: Kayla Ward, Athlete Ally Pro Ambassador
I wish I could tell you that my journey to get where I am today has been filled with acceptance and encouragement but unfortunately, I can’t. When I was growing up, I had no positive LGBTQ role models to look up to, and so it took a long time before I began living my truth. Now that I am, and especially now that I’m hoping to be the first trans woman to play for the WNBA, I want trans youth everywhere to know that they aren’t alone.
I spent the first 30 years of my life running away from myself and toward what society expected of me. I knew when I was around 6 that I was a girl but didn’t know how to tell anyone. Religion told me those feelings were wrong and my abusive stepdad would have beat me, so it was safer to ignore it and bury those feelings deep inside. Thankfully, I became obsessed with sports; particularly basketball. I was always finding ways to be on a court somewhere. Even at home I would pretend I was hitting the game winner of the Finals while throwing a piece of rolled up paper at a trashcan in the corner of my room. If I wasn’t playing basketball, I was watching it on TV. I even slept with my basketball like kids normally do with a stuffed animal.
Realistically, it may be too late for me to pursue a professional career in basketball, but I’m going to try anyway because it’s not just about me anymore. I decided from day one of my transition to share my story online and to be as vocal as possible so I could help educate, encourage, and inspire. I know that it’s doubtful I’ll make it onto a WNBA team but if I can help create the policy that allows other trans athletes the freedom to pursue their dreams, then I consider that a success and is the biggest reason I want to try out for a team. I want to be the visible role model for others that I didn’t have.
Currently, transgender youth are being attacked all across the country because people are afraid of what they don’t know. It is crucial that we help erase the stigmas and fears of trans athletes so our youth aren’t further isolated by being pushed away from sports. The sports world is one of the few places that truly brings us all together as a community, and LGBTQ inclusion within that is critical. It sends a message to the rest of the world that labels don’t matter, and equality is for everyone. We should all be free to live our truth, love ourselves, and pursue our dreams.
In this video, I will discuss how biology and biological advantages play out in the sports world, the records of the trans athletes regularly heard about in the media, the importance of sports in the lives of our youth and look at how we really treat female athletes.
Thanks Susan for sending this link - It is so informative. Please watch the whole video; it is worth it.