We are now a solid month into the 2014-15 academic year at Yale, and have a slew of new members of the Yale Cycling team. With those new members comes new confusion. I am a member of our women’s team, and as such am on the women’s team listserve and attending women’s team events (training discussions over froyo, rides, etc). I am even a central organizer of women’s team events, to some people’s confusion. After all, what is a guy doing at women’s events!?
The new year brings a new need to come out again and re-explain. This year is a different situation in that I am meeting our new members for the first time, and bringing confusion with our first interactions in cycling, which is a highly gendered sport. This makes me highly visible as a gender-confusing person. I present as and look like a guy, except for a few details that only those who are really paying attention would pick up on at first glance. But, I do a lot of talking about women’s cycling and I attend women’s events and races.
Last year, I was already known as one of the guys, with a full semester or more of being acquainted with all of the team members, as I came out to the greater Yale cycling community as being a female bodied trans person in the early spring, just prior to the road racing season. This year I had wanted to wait as long as possible to address the issue, for the sake of not creating a distraction from what we are all here for; the cycling! However, we are currently at that tipping point where my presence at women’s events without explanation is the distraction. So, it is time for me to start drafting a new, delicately-worded email to this year’s team explaining that while I am socially a guy, I have a female body and compete in women’s cycling.
To add to the archives, here is what was written in an address to the team and the greater Yale/ New Haven area cycling community last spring. The email below effectively outed me to the team plus approximately 800 people in the regional cycling community a single day.
Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have such a supportive cycling team? I expect no less this year, and am so thankful for the attitudes of openness and inclusion that I’ve experienced here at Yale Cycling.
Yale Bulldogs Cycling is proud to be a national leader in inclusiveness and diversity, as well as one of the fastest and most fun collegiate teams around!Keeping with this spirit of inclusion and welcoming diversity, we are proud to announce that one of our own, Travis, has spearheaded a push for major changes in national competitive cycling policy in a precedent setting case.
Please take the time to read his statement below.
As fellow team member and women’s captain, ____ is thrilled to be racing alongside Travis in the women’s field, and ____ will miss his presence in the men’s.
Travis has the full support of our team behind him and we’ll be there for him on and off the bike.
Your Captains, (names redacted)
Dear Yale Bulldogs Cycling,
First, thank you for being my teammates and my friends. It has been an honor to get to know you you while on the team.
Before you read it elsewhere, I want you to hear this from me first. In search of a level playing field, I have requested a change of USA Cycling license to reflect a recategorization from male to female for the purposes of racing. I was born female. I transitioned to living as a guy because I find that to be the most socially comfortable on a day to day basis. After extensive medical expert review to determine that I have no competitive advantage, USA Cycling has granted me a license to race in collegiate women’s A, or category 3 non-collegiate.
Why am I disclosing this now? Because cycling has changed my life in immensely positive ways, bringing me incredible joy. What’s more, my competitive cycling community is the kindest, most passionate and driven, and most altruistic group of people I’ve ever known. I want all people to be able to experience this beauty that is competitive cycling, regardless of their gender identity or how it matches their body.
Yet, I am still the same guy that you’ve known and ridden along side of. I have not changed, nor has my love of cycling.
I hope to continue to work with the leadership at USA Cycling to develop comprehensive, inclusive policies for the future so that all athletes can participate.
Finally, I can’t wait for the start of the season in March!