Becoming an Olympic athlete takes years of hard work and sacrifice. Many athletes focus solely on a single sport to be able to compete among, and become, the world’s elite. For the most part, that is also true for Chris Mosier. He trained for years as a duathlete — an event where athletes run, then cycle, and then run again. This year he made it as part of Team USA.
While the Olympics does not have a duathlete event (they have the triathlon, which is similar, but includes swimming), Mosier’s achievement in joining Team USA is something special. While he battled and trained like most, Mosier was also born a woman — he is the first openly transgender member of Team USA.
Growing up, Mosier was an athlete. “At any point in my life, regardless if I was confused about who I was or if I didn’t know the language of what I felt, the identifier that never changed was ‘athlete,’” Mosier told Rolling Stone. But being a trans athlete changes the game.
After competing as a woman for almost 30 years, Mosier changed his gender designation for races and started to take testosterone in 2010.
The barriers to becoming a world-class athlete are plenty, not just competing among other people who have dedicated their lives to a sport. Among them were regulatory agencies like the International Olympic Commission (IOC) World Anti-Doping Agency. Prior to January of 2016, trans athletes were ineligible for competition.
Between 2010 and 2016, a heavy war was waged. Not everyone is in favor of allowing trans athletes to compete. Particularly for those born male and identify female — they could be at an advantage. However, the IOC regulates testosterone levels 12 months before a completion for transgender athletes.
In addition to added drug testing and the uphill battle of competing against cis men, whose bodies produce testosterone at much more optimal levels, Mosier also deals with public perception. At a qualifying event in North Carolina this year Mosier was not allowed to use the bathroom because of HB2 (pull it together, North Carolina). There are rumored to be at least two transgender athletes competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. It’s “rumored” because no one has come out as trans.
With all of that, Mosier has made it, and he has paved the way for other transgender athletes to do the same. The incredible strides we see from these athletes in competition are being matched by the strides they are making outside of it.