When athlete Chris Mosier began attending college nearly two decades ago in the upper peninsula of Michigan, he knew few gay people, and he didn’t know anyone who identified as trans.
Now, as the first out transgender athlete on a U.S. men’s national team, Mosier is visiting colleges across the nation to share his story. At the invitation of Kenyon College Athletes for Equality (KCAE), Mosier traveled to Gambier on Thursday, Jan. 26, to speak in front of a packed Rosse Hall and answer questions from students.
Sarah Speroff ’18, who helps run KCAE, wanted to bring Mosier to campus to highlight diversity within athletics. “When people think of queer issues in sports, we tend to focus on gay and lesbian athletes coming out, but we hardly include non-binary and trans people in these conversations,” Speroff, a field hockey player from Euclid, Ohio, said.
Mosier has identified as an athlete his entire life, but throughout his early adulthood, he never felt fully comfortable competing in women’s categories. He came out publicly in 2010 and began his transition, facing uncertainty about what transitioning to male would mean for his athletics career.
Despite the challenges of transitioning, Mosier continued to excel as a duathlete and triathlete. In February 2016, he was the first transgender athlete to be featured in ESPN Magazine’s annual Body Issue.
His rising success as an athlete put pressure on the International Olympic Committee to revisit its policy requiring trans athletes to have sex reassignment surgery before participating in international competitions. The policy was revised, and in June 2016, Mosier became the first out transgender athlete to compete in a world championship. Two months later, he starred in a Nike ad, the company’s first-ever with a transgender athlete.
In the years since his transition, Mosier has worked tirelessly on behalf of LGBTQ+ athletes. His website transathlete.com serves as an important resource for information on trans inclusion in athletics. In 2011, Mosier was rewarded for his efforts by the Obama administration, which named him an Emerging LGBT Leader. He was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I wanted to be that person that I needed 15 years ago,” Mosier said about his work advocating safe environments for LGBTQ+ athletes.
Speroff appreciated his talk and noted the importance of discussing “true diversity and intersectionality” in sports.
“I think myself and our community were able to come away from that talk with a deeper understanding of what it means to be transgender and why we should be talking about it,” Speroff said. “It’s something that deserves our attention and our honest conversations, because unfortunately there are still some people out there that believe transgender people are somehow subhuman, and not worth as much as cisgendered people.”
Mosier hopes his achievements will break open doors for other trans athletes and urged students to create their own legacies.
“I encourage you all to dream big,” Mosier said. “If your want is big enough, if your why is big enough, you will make it happen.”