For Chris Mosier, this week's guest on Uninterrupted, competing in duathlons isn't just about winning races, it's about making a statement about equality. Chris is the first openly transgender athlete to qualify for the U.S. National team of the gender he identifies with, as opposed to the gender he was assigned at birth.
For Chris, who identifies as male, this meant not only proving he could compete alongside cis-gendered male athletes, but also convincing the International Olympic Committee that he belonged on that team in the first place.
The duathlon is a grueling event that involves a combination of bicycling and running. Up until 2009, Chris competed on women's teams. But after transitioning in 2010, he began racing in the men's events. He proved himself to be a competitive and dedicated athlete, much to the admiration of his teammates and competitors. "I get congratulated and high-fives and hugs from my competitors, and for the most part everyone has been really super supportive," says Chris. "The organizations that run these races, make it a point to say, 'We want to include everyone.'They've just been beyond supportive of me, which has been amazing."
That said, traveling for races hasn't exactly been a cakewalk for Chris, in terms of navigating local culture and laws.
"I just did a race in North Carolina, which is one of the states where it's very dangerous to be a transgender person," says Chris. "That was definitely on my mind when I went down there. I had to think about if I would be safe in public spaces."
Chris utilized his understandable concern about his host state and channeled it into inspiration for his race.
"For me to go and make my second U.S. National Team in a state that tells me I am less than, and that I should be harassed—that's a really big thing," says Chris. "But I was very intentional about not spending money in the state beyond the hotel. I was just going to my hotel, going to the race, going back to the hotel, and really limiting my time outside of that."
Recognizing how meaningful it is for a transgender athlete to compete on the U.S. National Team, Chris hopes to use his visibility to help other trans and LGBTQ athletes navigate a system that can be incredibly alienating. That's why he started Transathlete.com, a website that offers resources for students, athletes, coaches, and administrators, and helps them find information about trans inclusion in athletics at all levels.
"When I was thinking about transitioning, I was looking for a trans man who was competing with men after a medical transition and I just didn't see them," says Chris. "They weren't out there. At least not publicly. Which is why, for me, it's really important to be the person I needed when I was younger. That's something that I take very seriously."
Listen to this week’s episode of Uninterrupted on iTunes or Soundcloud now.
The People Promoted on this Episode:
"Wade Davis is the executive director of You Can Play," explains Chris. "It's another sports organization that does LGBTQ advocacy work in men's pro sports. Wade is a former NFL player, and openly gay, and he did a TED talk on the mask of masculinity, and I think it's something that is so incredibly important for folks to listen to and to consider."
Follow These People on Twitter:
Women's Health: @womenshealthmag
Caitlin Abber: @everydaycaitlin
Chris Mosier: @TheChrisMosier
Uninterrupted is produced by Caitlin Abber, with audio production by Paul Ruest and Dani Wexelman.
Editorial support was provided by Lisa Chudnofsky.
Our theme music is “Bullshit” by Jen Miller.