“Be the person you needed when you were younger.”
With elections looming, the scope of human rights is being hotly debated — and soon to be cast across ballots.
In the crosshairs is gender politics — specifically transgender rights — a vital subject of contention I admit to understanding less than I should.
So let’s talk about it.
To anchor this exploration I reached out to Chris Mosier — arguably the most prominent and accomplished transgender athlete working to progress cultural perceptions and activate legislative change.
You may recognize Chris from the viral Nike commercial that aired during the 2016 Rio Olympics. In addition to being the first transgender athlete to be sponsored by Nike, Chris holds the distinction of being the first trans athlete ever to be featured in the ESPN Body Issue.
Among his many accomplishments, Chris is a hall of fame triathlete, All-American duathlete, 2-time National Champion, and a 6-time member of Team USA. In 2015 he became the first known transgender man to represent the United States in international competition.
More recently, he picked up the sport of race walking and rapidly distinguished himself, becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an Olympic Trials in a category different than their sex assigned at birth.
As an activist, Chris has spent years at the forefront of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, paving a more inclusive path for future trans athletes. In 2015, he was the catalyst for changing the International Olympic Committee’s policy on transgender athletes to provide such individuals with the right to represent their country at the Olympic Games. And in 2016, Chris drove further policy change within the IOC, expanding the rights of transgender athletes to take part in the Olympic Games without the previously required necessity of gender reassignment surgery.
Profiled everywhere from Rolling Stone to the New York Times, Chris is also the founder of Transathlete.com, a resource for students, athletes, coaches, and administrators to find information about trans inclusion in athletics at various levels of play. He has mentored transgender athletes around the globe, from high school and recreational to the professional levels, and helped teams, leagues, and professional sports leagues create gender-inclusive policies.
A conversation long in the making, I first stumbled across Chris’ story in a 2017 short documentary about November Project (‘Showing Up’) in preparation for my sit down with the co-founder Brogan Graham (RRP #277). One of the athletes profiled in the video was Chris. Although previously unfamiliar with his story, I was immediately compelled. Hence began three years of correspondence to bring us to today.
Aside from his physical prowess, what impresses me most about Chris is his courage. He had the option to stay silent — to make the most of his passing privilege without enduring the scrutiny that accompanies a public coming out. But he did so to set precedent. To change public perception. And stand as a beacon of hope and possibility for those who will come after him.
This is a conversation about Chris’s unique life. His transition. His trials. And his tribulations.
It’s about the privileges of gender, race, and class.
It’s about what it’s like having your very existence up for debate, and how our country is treating so many of her citizens as non-humans.
For context, consider that 41% of trans youth attempt suicide. Horrific and unacceptable, it’s a statistic that must change. Together we can do better. So it is with pride that I share Chris’ story, bravery, and vulnerability with you today.
Note: This conversation was recorded pre-pandemic, thus there is no mention of the coronavirus. May this episode provide a significant and thoughtful reprieve from your 24/7 pandemic news feed.
And for something new & different: People seemed to enjoy my brief check-in segment with Mishka Shubaly in the lead in to my recent episode with Chris Hauth (RRP #514). So I thought I’d do it again. Today’s appetizer to the main course is Nadia Bolz-Weber — my favorite heavily tattooed Lutheran pastor from RRP #428 — who drops in to talk quarantine, ‘grace for fuckups’ and her fabulous new podcast, The Confessional.
I sincerely hope you find this exchange as revealing and enlightening as I did.
Peace + Plants,
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Thanks to this week’s sponsors
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Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support the sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity URLs and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.
- Connect with Chris: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Strava
- Connect with Nadia: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Podcast: The Confessional
- Transathlete: transathlete.com
- NY Times: Trans Athlete Chris Mosier on Qualifying for the Olympic Trials
- Nike Commerical: ‘Unlimited’
- Nike Commercial: ‘Unlimited Courage’
- Rolling Stone: Chris Mosier on Making History as First Trans Member of Team USA
- TIME: First Transgender Man on the U.S. National Team Stars in Nike Ad
- ESPN: The Body Issue 2016: Chris Mosier
- November Project Documentary: ‘Showing Up’
- QZ: The first transgender athlete on Team USA reveals how he combats sexism in sports
- The Cut: The First Ad Featuring a Trans Athlete Aired During the Olympics
- The Cut: The Trans Athlete Behind the Olympic Committee’s New Gender Policy
- Bleacher Report: Transgender Athlete Chris Mosier Competes in 2016 World Duathlon Championship
- Idaho Press: ‘Some of the damage has already been done’: Chris Mosier, crowd rally at Capitol against trans legislation
- AdWeek: Nike’s Latest Ad Stars Chris Mosier, the First Transgender Athlete on a U.S. National Team
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Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering and show notes; Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis for video, editing and graphics; portraits by Ali Rogers; copywriting by Georgia Whaley; and theme music by Ana Leimma.
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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